Theodore mothers-to-be will have to continue to travel to other towns to give birth to their babies, leaving locals furious with the decision.
The Theodore Hospital had maternity services up until 2010, when the ward was ruined by floodwaters, and since then has only been able to cater for emergency deliveries.
Chief executive of CQ Health, Steve Williamson, said the organisation would not reintroduce birthing services at Theodore Hospital after a seven-year absence, but will use the facility as an example, showcasing what can be achieved in a bush hospital to support rural and bush communities.
“We will support and invest in Theodore Hospital to further develop hospital and health services, which can sustainably be delivered to improve the health of bush communities,” Mr Williamson said.
He said he believed the reintroduction of birthing would present too many risks for women and their babies.
“The risk to women and their babies is too great and we will not reintroduce a birthing service at Theodore Hospital,” Mr Williamson said.
“Women will birth at Biloela, where there is 24-hour anaesthetic coverage to ensure emergency care can be delivered without the need to travel more than an hour.
“The Biloela Hospital was recently accredited as a rural generalist training facility – similar to Emerald Hospital – which means we will have more doctors with the appropriate skills ensuring safe care for women from the Biloela, Theodore and Moura areas.”
LNP opposition leader Deb Frecklington said it was not okay that the Palaszczuk government treated rural and regional Queenslanders like second-class citizens.
“I was born in a country hospital, and as a country mum I know how important it is to be able to have your baby close to home,” Ms Frecklington said.
“It’s completely unacceptable that Annastacia Palaszczuk is so out of touch that she thinks it is okay to shut down maternity services in the bush.
“Mums-to-be are already driving hours to access Theodore Hospital and Labor expects them to drive even further.”
Ms Frecklington said Queenslanders deserved a world-class health system, regardless of where they live.
“This is just another example of how Brisbane-centric the Labor government is.”
Patient is shunted from town to town
When Theodore local, Ali de Strang went into labour at 36 weeks she visited the local hospital, was given medicine to lessen her contractions and transferred to Biloela.
On arrival at Biloela Hospital, Ms de Strang was given more medicine to completely stop her labour and sent home. She was then told to relocate to Gladstone and wait for her baby’s arrival, as there would not be any doctors in Biloela for the next two weeks.
“I was in Gladstone for 11 days and went into labour again and waited till my contractions were a lot stronger and frequent, before going to the maternity ward.” Ms de Strang said.
“My delivery happened really fast and after some force, and me and my son both near dying, he was born and was taken from me straight away to be resuscitated and stabilised.”
“My son was born weighing 5.2kg, and if I were to have birthed my son at the Theodore Hospital when I went into labour at 36 weeks and 3 days he would have been a normal-sized baby without the near death experience for us both.”
Locals just want to have babies in Theodore
When Jessica Weimar moved to the Theodore district two years ago, she was heartened by the fact the maternity ward would re-open in the future. However during her pregnancy it became clear that she would have to travel away to have her baby.
Ms Weimar had to arrange accommodation for herself, her two-year-old toddler, and her parents for a month in Rockhampton to give birth.
“It wasn’t just the expense but anxiety that my husband would not make it in time for the delivery.”
Community raises funds to re-open maternity section
After the devastating 2010 floods the Theodore community rallied and started fundraising for their hospital. So far there is $73,000 in kitty ready to be spent on extra fittings earmarked for the maternity section.
Theodore local Meredith Barrett said she was absolutely gutted with CQ Health’s decision not to re-open the maternity section and only provide emergency delivery.
“The community rallied and we raised money to assist CQ Health and they have let us down,” she said.