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End of an era for birthing in Morrinsville

An emotional crowd gathered in Morrinsville today to farewell birthing services at the Rhoda Read Maternity Unit.

Visit our Facebook gallery for photos of the event

Waikato DHB director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward acknowledged all the nurses and midwives at Rhoda Read who had contributed over many years.

Waikato DHB director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward acknowledged all the nurses and midwives at Rhoda Read who had contributed over many years.

The unit was opened by Waikato Area Health Board chairman David Kydd and Rhoda Read, long standing board member, on 28 May 1990.

The first baby born there, Shanaye Tissingh, was delivered on 9 May 1990, before the formal opening on and she was present for the closure along with one of the last babies born there, Noah Wallace, born 14 January 2015.

It was a who’s who of Morrinsville midwifery present including facility midwife Hilary Hoover, who was present for both Shanaye and Noah’s births, and Shanaye’s grandmother midwife Aldwyn Black who “caught” her granddaughter nearly 25 years ago.

Also there were midwives from Aroha Midwifery Care in Morrinsville who provided the on call midwifery service to Rhoda Read for many years.

Those midwives at times have gone to tremendous efforts to ensure that a midwife would be available to respond to a call within a 15 – 20 minute time frame.

In addition they provided tremendous support to the unit in terms of donations of items and furnishings. The birth pool at Rhoda Read was one of their initiatives.

Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch spoke of the challenging times there had been since Waikato DHB revealed it was reviewing its birthing services in Morrinsville.

“As one door closes, another door will open.”

While it was a sad occasion, it was an important one to mark, he said.

Matamata-Piako mayor Jan Barnes said it was sad Morrinsville was losing its local maternity service but she knew the number of births in the town at the unit had dropped, which contributed to the closure.

“I still think the future will give us some opportunities for our community,” she said.

Midwives and community groups tried so hard to pull together a viable solution which did not come off.

“I do hope the DHB will be open to initiatives for our women.”

Waikato DHB nursing and midwifery director Sue Hayward acknowledged the role of nurses and midwives at Rhoda Read and asked them to remember all those experiences they had been part of.

Board deputy chair Sally Christie said she was moved by the generosity of the welcome for her and other DHB staff present, given the occasion.

She said as she walked through the “precious unit” she could “see, feel and touch” the emotion.

“We acknowledge the pain and I urge you to move through your process and look to the future. We are committed to the wellbeing of your whanau and I know what you are going through now.”

The board would look at any viable solutions for the community, she said.

Prior to the move in 1990 to Rhoda Read, the maternity unit was on Park St in Morrinsville. The staff that transferred from Park St to Rhoda Read were involved in the planning and furnishing of the unit. They travelled to Te Awamutu to visit Matariki’s facility which had been built a few years earlier took some learnings from their project and some minor design changes were made. A huge community fund raising effort meant the soft furnishings and a lot of the furniture and much of the medical equipment was purchased by the community. Some of these have already been donated to the community, such as the microwave, which went to a family in Te Aroha, as did the small fridge.

Last week a function was held for all past and present staff. There were lots of reunions and reminiscing, and fun had by all. A photo board was on display and all those present were given the opportunity to take photographss or/and newspaper articles home that were special to the particular individual.

Closure of Birthing Services at Rhoda Read

Birthing services provided at Rhoda Read in Morrinsville close at 5pm, Friday 30 January 2015.

Waikato District Health Board (DHB) would like to acknowledge and thank the significant effort from all staff, past and present, in providing safe quality care for mothers and their babies over the decades of operation.

We wish all current staff the very best in the future, particularly our charge midwife manager Shirley Hopping.

The DHB would also like to recognise the enormous amount of support received from Morrinsville residents and from the surrounding communities.

We also thank the many service clubs and organisations who donated equipment, furnishing or other items such as artwork to make women’s stay safe and comfortable.

Some of the equipment no longer required at other facilities, including bassinettes and mattresses, have been donated to the community.

A local woman who found out she was expecting twins in May, is the proud owner of two bassinettes as a result.

Mrs Hopping said Rhoda Read had benefitted from tremendous community support since it opened in 1990.

“Much of the original equipment purchased for the unit was purchased by a trust set up to support the unit. A lot of this has since been replaced by the DHB as it became outdated.

“The community’s support has been constant and new items have continued to be donated. All community donated items are being given back to the community, and in addition equipment not required at other DHB maternity units is being donated back to this community.

“Contact is being made with the budget advisers and Parents As First Teachers educators in Morrinsville and Te Aroha to identify the families most in need,” said Mrs Hopping.

For families requiring maternity service in the future women should discuss options with their Lead Maternity Carer.

Birthing services remain available at:

  • River Ridge Birthing Centre, Hamilton Ph 07 839 0425
  • Waterford Birth Centre, Hamilton Ph 07 839 0281
  • Thames Birthing Unit, Thames Ph 07 868 6009
  • Waikato Hospital, Hamilton Ph 07 839 8899

Dial 111 for an ambulance in a maternity emergency.

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