High-risk birth in ambulance bay
A MURWILLUMBAH mother gave birth in a hospital ambulance bay after being denied access to the maternity ward.
Donna Bodley said she was stripped of any privacy when forced to give birth to son Jack, identified as a high-risk pregnancy, outside the emergency room at Murwillumbah District Hospital on Saturday.
With the disorganised birth, Ms Bodley became the latest victim of North Coast Area Health Service’s decision to send all high-risk pregnancy cases from Murwillumbah to Tweed Hospital.
“They took away my rights, everything,” Ms Bodley said yesterday.
“I was really scared for the life of my child. I was so far gone and they still wanted to transport me.”
After being turned away from the maternity ward in Murwillumbah, Ms Bodley was put in an ambulance to be taken to Tweed Heads despite pleas from her midwife she would not make it before giving birth.
Ms Bodley said her water broke when the vehicle took a speed bump shortly after leaving the hospital and they were forced to turn back.
She said her labour was well progressed when she was told she would be going to The Tweed Hospital.
“All I could think about was if it had to have my baby in the ambulance or on the side of the road somewhere,” she said.
Ms Bodley gave birth to Jack, her seventh child, without any complications, outdoors in the ambulance bay with a nearby emergency room full of patients watching on with little to guard the view about 6pm.
Ms Bodley said she feared a ride to Tweed Heads at that time would have endangered her child.
“I was deemed high-risk because this is my seventh child and I’ve had a caesarean before,” she said.
“But imagine if the caesarean scar opened up in the ambulance on the way there. It was extremely dangerous.”
Ms Bodley was told she would still be transferred to Tweed Hospital.
“I just put my foot down and said no way,” she said.
Both mother and baby were in good health yesterday when they were discharged from Murwillumbah hospital.
Earlier in the day Ms Bodley presented herself to The Tweed Hospital believing she was about to go into labour.
The hospital said she was fine.
North Coast Area Health Service made the decision to downgrade the obstetrics unit at Murwillumbah in April.
Since then all high-risk pregnancies from Murwillumbah have been transferred to Tweed Heads.
Service CEO Chris Crawford at the time said the decision was made to ensure the best quality care for mothers and babies.
Ms Bodley said the downgrade could have cost her baby his life.
“It was absolutely ridiculous. I think the changes are stupid,” Ms Bodley said.
“I would like to see the maternity ward at Murwillumbah reinstated to the way it once was.”
Ms Bodley’s story comes just days after fellow Murwillumbah mother Arna Baartz took a stand at the changes to the maternity ward at Murwillumbah by showing up as an unexpected high-risk birth patient.
Murwillumbah Medical Staff Council deputy chairman Doug Warne said an inquiry should be held into Ms Bodley’s case.
“This is the exact situation we said would be experienced if high-risk births were made to transfer to Tweed Heads,” Dr Warne said.
“It’s very worrying that a pregnant lady would be treated this way. They were terrible conditions and would have been very upsetting for Donna and her family.”
Murwillumbah Hospital Support Committee chairman Ian Ross said it was a disgrace the hospital had reached this point.
“It’s only by good fortune that nothing more serious occurred,” Mr Ross said.
A health service spokeswoman said Ms Bodley had previously been advised to present to The Tweed Hospital.
“She was reviewed there by both the midwifery staff and the obstetrics and gynaecology registrar,” the spokeswoman said.
“It was determined that she was neither in labour, nor showing signs of imminent birth or complications and was discharged.”
The spokeswoman said a nurse manager from the Tweed/Byron network visited Ms Bodley yesterday.