EXPECTANT Cooktown mothers can breathe a sigh of relief about being able to give birth locally once more.
On Monday, Premier Campbell Newman and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg visited the Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service to announce $3.8 million in funding.
After birthing facilities in Cooktown were closed more than a decade ago, the Cooktown Cluster Midwifery Group Practice now expects to be operational by January 2014.
Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service Medical Superintendent Dr Tash Coventry said the funding enables them to get the equipment and staffing to be able to achieve a very comprehensive maternity model of care.
“We have had a vision for a long time but have been under resourced,” she said.
“This is the response to an ongoing community enquiry to explore re-establishing birthing services here.”
Cooktown is a single ward hospital and their existing 16 acute beds will be used to look after post-partum mothers.
Dr Coventry said the big difference is they will be able to provide caesarean section on site, with an upgrade of theatre equipment.
“In addition we will have a large outreach service facilitated by a midwife and health workers and they too will have equipment to give anti natal and post-partum care in a client’s home and the surrounding indigenous community,” she said.
“We are really trying to improve maternity services to Hopevale, Wujal Wujal and Laura, in a hub and spoke type model.”
The funding will be formally announced in next month’s state budget.
Cooktown is the second rural hospital to have birthing services returned, after services at the Beaudesert Hospital recommenced in March.
A clinical midwifery consultant and a maternal and child health/indigenous health worker at Cooktown have been appointment and recruitment is underway for an additional four midwives, one health worker, three nurses, two doctors and an administrative assistant.
Premier Campbell Newman said since 2003, all Cooktown region women had to travel to Cairns or elsewhere at 36 weeks to deliver.
“This government has a strong plan for a brighter future and this includes vital community initiatives like the Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service for which we’ll announce $3.8 million in recurrent funding," he said.
Mr Newman said the first babies are expected to be born through this service by early next year.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said hospitals like Cooktown would be the templates for the reintroduction of similar, basic health services.
He described the removal of these services under the previous government as only inequitable and unacceptable.
“I expect that Weipa, which has not had a full birthing service since the mid-1990s, will be the next town in this region to have services reinstated in the second round of birthing service re-openings,” he said.