PEOPLE POWER: The community of Theodore came together in a peaceful rally on Tuesday morning fighting for their maternity services to be reinstated.
PEOPLE POWER: The community of Theodore came together in a peaceful rally on Tuesday morning fighting for their maternity services to be reinstated. Vanessa Jarrett

Community up in arms about hospital board's decision

YOU MAY not be able to give birth at Theodore Hospital but you may soon be able to get a colonoscopy there.

That is the Central Queensland Hospital Health Service board's answer to covering the gap of the loss of maternity services.

Early Tuesday morning, what seemed like the entire population of Theodore marched together chanting "we want choices”.

Hundreds of people, young and old, from the small Central Queensland town rallied beside each other to protest the closure of Theodore Hospital's maternity services.

The loud group was armed with banners that read "save Theodore birthing services” as they walked from Neville Hewitt Park through the main street - in which all businesses were closed in honour of the rally - and stopped at the front of Theodore Hospital, where CQHHS chief executive Steve Williamson had a private meeting with the hospital board.

READ HERE: CQ mum's stressful birthing experience away from home

A public meeting was held afterwards at Hotel Theodore, where a full house voiced their concerns and fired questions at the hospital board.

CQHHS's Steve Williamson.
CQHHS's Steve Williamson. Vanessa Jarrett

The birthing suite was forced to close in 2011 due to damage from the floods. The future of the maternity services had been up in the air since then as the theatre room needed significant refurbishment.

In an attempt to fund this, the community rallied together and raised $70,000 for hospital renovations and equipment.

This money is reportedly still sitting in a bank trust.

Since 2011, there have been no planned births, with the only exception being emergency births.

In 2010 and 2011 combined, there were 41 births at Theodore Hospital and in 2012 there were 22. Since 2013, there have been 39 births at the hospital.

In June this year, Mr Williamson officially announced the Theodore planned maternity services were closed - for good.

He said expectant mothers would need to travel 100km to Biloela, 210km to Rockhampton, 224km to Gladstone or 340km to Emerald.

FIRED UP: The large crowd at the CQHHS public meeting at the Theodore Hotel questioned the board on their safety birthing concerns on Tuesday.
FIRED UP: The large crowd at the CQHHS public meeting at the Theodore Hotel questioned the board on their safety birthing concerns on Tuesday. Vanessa Jarrett

Despite questions from the crowd yesterday about the community fundraising, the safety risk of driving, roadside births, the high quality of medical staff in Theodore, the implication of financial costs and emotional stress, Mr Williamson remained calm and said the decision to close planned maternity services was "purely due to safety”.

He said larger hospitals could provide 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year access to emergency theatre for the small number of mums and bubs that might need it during birth.

"We need to have the right medical workforce, the right access to theatres, the right nursing and midwifery on those rare occasions where the mum needs extra or lifesaving support intervention, we can provide it,” he said.

"That might be one mum in 50 or one in 100, it might be less frequent, but when it happens and when a mum and a bub - or both - need emergency intervention, surgery, caesarian section, we want to make sure we can provide that.

"It was clear to me here the community have concerns about the extra travel and the impact that puts on mums and families having to travel, I understand that ... but that doesn't change the safety requirement.”

CQHHS released plans to the crowd of the future developments planned for Theodore Hospital, which are listed above.

The board discussed with the crowd that the new theatre facilities would allow for more planned day surgery procedures to be undertaken at the hospital, including colonoscopies.

Emergency births would still be an exception at Theodore Hospital.

The community of Theodore came together in a peaceful rally this morning fighting for their maternity services to be reinstated.
The community of Theodore came together in a peaceful rally this morning fighting for their maternity services to be reinstated. Vanessa Jarrett

Future hospital plans:

  • Enhanced emergency capability including improved monitoring, resuscitation and ventilation facilities
  • Comprehensive antenatal and post-natal services, included extended midwifery services
  • Facilities for extra emergency cases and emergency birthing areas
  • After hours plain x-ray services for urgent cases
  • More procedural and theatre capability
  • Investment in Telehealth development and Theodore telechemotherapy innovation
  • Staff training including regular on site training in emergency care, emergency maternity presentations and operating theatre procedures
  • Develop and improve aged care services
  • Connecting Theodore hospital with hospital and health services across CQ with digital integrated medical records

Procedure room/theatre:

  • Available for routine procedural including sedation and local anaesthetic procedures, capable for surgical services
  • Sterile procedure
  • Emergency procedures
  • Theatre refurbishment to include theatre table and accessories, blanket warmer, x-ray screen and adequate instruments and disposables
  • Medical gas for nitrous oxide
  • Airway trolley stocked to provide theatre and emergency capability
  • Anaesthetic machine

Emergency room:

  • Piped medical gas
  • Monitored, resuscitation and ventilation facilities with modern set up, oxylog 3000 or similar, full set of airway and other disposables

Extra emergency /emergency birthing areas:

  • Facilities for extra emergency cases
  • Neonatal resuscitation capability
  • Emergency bed with birthing capability

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