Birthing services return amid Island baby boom

Bringing birthing services back to Kangaroo Island is creating a baby boom for mothers previously forced to travel to Adelaide at 35 weeks, with the State Government today announcing that a $10 million upgrade at the local hospital is underway.

Jun 23, 2023, updated Jun 23, 2023
Helena Neven and Ronald DeKruif with their baby Adam at Kangaroo Island Hospital. Photo: Belinda Willis

Helena Neven and Ronald DeKruif with their baby Adam at Kangaroo Island Hospital. Photo: Belinda Willis

A higher number of 12 births has been recorded at the local hospital since the service was reinstated in February, with news another 21 pregnant women are expected to give birth this year.

Dutch Phd student Helena Neven is among those to use the reinstated service, giving birth to Adam one week ago. One hospital staff member quipped the newborn is now entitled to be deemed “an islander rather than a local”.

Director of nursing and midwifery Amy Stopford said that in October last year several staff members had retired, leading to the birthing service being suspended.

Facility manager Daniel Roesler told how it led to his own brother and partner being forced to travel to Victor Harbor so she could give birth to their baby boy.

The State Government had since worked to build a longer-term program cycling staff through the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to fix “the fragile” service, Stopford said.

This service includes a midwifery unit manager, associate manager, two registered midwives, medical consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology and general practice obstetricians.

Local GP Stephanie Cohen said at a community meeting last night that any new services would be welcome as the eight GPs (some working part time) on the island had more limited access to services and equipment.

“This is important for women’s health and safety,” the Premier said today during a Country Cabinet event on Kangaroo Island.

Premier Peter Malinauskas meeting baby Daisy at Kangaroo Island Hospital. Photo: Belinda Willis/InDaily

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He also said the $10 million initial phase for a master plan to expand the hospital would start with the construction of kitchen, laundry and storage facilities – future proofing the hospital to be adequately resourced in the case of the ferry or planes not being able to operate due to bad weather.

During a tour of the hospital, the Premier said another $5 million will lead to new staff housing through a Commonwealth Regional Recovery Partnership.

For Stopford, it also means greater access to specialist services like ultrasounds and theatre time for staff, with the State Government committing to explore problems with effectively transporting blood tests that had been halted since Rex Airlines stopped flying to the island.

Discussions would now continue with Qantas, which is being supported to provide extra flights to the island but will not take the blood tests.

Family planning was affected by the suspension of services since October last year, Stopford saying locals know “it’s a pretty special club to be born on Kangaroo Island”.

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