Mater Mothers’ Hospitals is opening Queensland’s first, purpose-built 24/7, Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) to care for women from the very beginning of pregnancy through until six weeks after the baby has been born.
In Australia, as many as one in four women expecting a baby experience complications early in their pregnancy—from 0 to 20 weeks gestation—including bleeding and other issues, many of whom present to emergency departments or have to wait to schedule a visit to their GP.
In 2016, there were almost 20 000 presentations to Mater Mothers Hospitals and to Mater’s Emergency Departments of women experiencing pregnancy related issues. The opening of PAC will offer a specialist woman centred model of care in a single location, with care provided by highly trained doctors nurses and midwives, and where a woman can present at any time of the day or night.
Mothers, Babies and Women’s Health Services, Medical Director Dr Mike Beckmann, explains that caring for women with a pregnancy complication from the beginning to the end of pregnancy in a single location is a very unique model of care.
“The Pregnancy Assessment Centre model has not been built before now and it’s been a challenge for us,” Dr Beckmann said.
“It was important to balance the space to be able to provide appropriate care for women who are suffering a complication like miscarriage, as well as for other women who are having a baby, in the one location.
“The environment we have designed has separate spaces for women presenting with different problems to enable us to tailor the care we provide,” he said.
Mater patient, Tebony Justins has suffered the grief of having three miscarriages as well as a heartbreaking stillbirth and knows only too well the impact of pregnancy related complications.
“The care I received at the emergency department at Mater was brilliant, but I wasn’t treated by a specialist obstetrician or midwife which gives you more peace of mind. From an emotional point of view, obstetricians and midwives are experienced in dealing with women who have had miscarriages and know the sensitivities around them,” Ms Justins said.
“When you are in the situation where you suspect something is wrong with your baby at that early stage, you are in a panic and don’t really know where to go to seek assistance.
“Knowing there is a specialised facility that’s open to everyone 24/7 gives me so much comfort and will be invaluable for any expectant Mother,” she said.
The PAC has a specific area for early pregnancy assessment providing a private area for women who may be suffering bleeding in early pregnancy which is separate to women who may present later in pregnancy.
“An emergency department provides care for patients with all sorts of emergency. But when it is not an emergency, this is not the ideal place to come. There are few options for a woman experiencing early pregnancy bleeding or pain, concerned and worried at 2 am, and wanting to know if everything is going to be OK” Dr Beckmann said.
“The Pregnancy Assessment Centre tries to turn all that around and says whether its 2 am or 2 pm, you can come here and we will try and provide that answer for you in an environment where the midwives, nurses and doctors, are specialists in their field, and in an environment that is specifically designed to manage pregnancy complications.”
In preparation for the opening of the new centre, Mater undertook two days of simulations involving Mater doctors and midwives, and specifically trained Mater Volunteers as patients to replicate and manage a range of patient presentations.
Women can either call the Pregnancy Assessment Centre, or just present to the centre if they have any pregnancy related concerns. General practitioners can also refer to the service.
Upon arrival at PAC, women will be assessed by a triage midwife and prioritised based on need rather than order of arrival. Mater is a provider of both public and private maternity services and women who present to the PAC can choose to be seen as a private patient or a public patient.
PAC is based in Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane and will be open to women from Thursday 27 April 2017 and can be contacted on 07 3163 7000.
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