BASS Coast Health (BCH) is pleased to announce the resumption of maternity services at Wonthaggi Hospital, with a gradual transition from Monday, May 18.

This follows current advice from the state government for health services to safely start to resume usual service provision given the low community transmission rate of COVID-19 after the two-week testing blitz.

Over the past seven weeks, BCH has partnered with South Gippsland Hospital (SGH) to provide maternity services. This has been a great example of sub-regional collaboration, where 13 women who were planning to give birth at Wonthaggi Hospital made the change to have their babies at Foster.

BCH is thankful to midwives who worked at SGH during this time and the wonderful SGH staff who provided care for all women and their babies. The teams enjoyed working together and have shared respective learnings that they can use going forward.

The women and their partners were all very understanding and were comfortable knowing that as the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding, plans had been made to use a separate facility for women who were not showing any COVID-19 symptoms.

“Victorian Health Services and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) now have a better understanding of COVID-19 and the current spread of the virus,” said BCH CEO Jan Child.

“Guided by advice from DHHS and Safer Care Victoria, we have clear plans, highly trained staff and designated, separate areas to treat COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients at Wonthaggi Hospital.

“I am extremely pleased to be able to resume the full suite of maternity services at BCH and wish to acknowledge the excellent teamwork, agility and collaboration between South Gippsland Hospital midwifery staff, consultant obstetricians and GP obstetricians, and the midwives from BCH,” said Ms Child.

SGH CEO Paul Greenhalgh added: “It has been our pleasure to be caretakers of the BCH service to allow BCH time to do the important work they needed to build their capacity. I have been extremely impressed by the whole response broadly and extend gratitude to all involved.”

All women who are due to give birth in the next two months are being contacted to establish their preferred health service, acknowledging some women have had antenatal appointments at Foster and may wish to continue with the plan to birth at South Gippsland Hospital.

Women are strongly encouraged to participate in all antenatal and post-natal care appointments. The health services have telehealth options and have the safety of parents and babies as the primary consideration when face-to-face consultations take place.

BCH women and families nurse manager Melanie Shields said there were some concerning reports that some women are fearful of presenting to hospital and are using their own handheld fetal heart rate dopplers at home.

“Safer Care Victoria advise against the use of handheld fetal heart rate dopplers at home in the setting of fetal wellbeing concerns. Women with concerns about fetal movements should be advised to present to hospital within two hours,” said Ms Shields.

For more information, call the BCH maternity department on 5671 3201 or South Gippsland Hospital Foster on 5683 9777.