A 20 year celebration of the Community Midwife Program (CMP) was held recently and we were delighted to see so many staff and families connected with the service enjoying the festivities, including the original four CMP midwives from 1998; Helen Haines, Janine Holland, Diana Marshall, and Janet Baker.
Also attending the celebrations were 20-year-old Sam Shanley, one of our first babies born through the service and one of the service’s newest arrivals, baby Milla with mum Olivia Szeligiewicz. This was also the perfect opportunity to formally announce a name change for the service, from the Community Midwife Program to Midwifery Group Practice (MGP).
The Community Midwife Program (or CMP as it has commonly been known throughout the years) was initially trialled at the Wangaratta District Base Hospital in 1995 in response to a Commonwealth Birthing Services Review into improving access to maternity services for all women. The model was one of the first of its kind in Victoria.
Due to its success, the hospital with support from Obstetricians Colin Pearse and Leo Fogarty, continued the program outside of the pilot and CMP became a permanent option for maternity care for local women 20 years ago – in November of 1998. The program initially consisted of 4 midwives – Helen Haines, Janine Holland, Diana Marshall and Janet Baker.
In its first years, CMP had the capacity to care for 80 women per year. The demand soon increased, and along with that came a 5th midwife and the added ability to provide care to more women and families. Since its inception, the midwives of CMP have attended to over 3,000 births, including assisting women returning to CMP with their second, third or even seventh child! With five midwives providing a 24/7 on call service for labour, birth and pregnancy advice or concerns, as well as providing routine antenatal care and home based postnatal care for up to 6 weeks, the program currently has the ability to care for 140 women per year.
CMP’s emphasis is on providing women-centred, individualised and evidence based care to those with low risk pregnancies, and providing supported care for those women who have a higher risk profile in conjunction with the Obstetric team. The ability to provide antenatal and postnatal care with continuity and flexibility in a child friendly setting is certainly one of the program’s biggest strengths. To ensure the best and safest outcomes, as well as client satisfaction, the midwives work closely with a multi disciplinary team including obstetricians, perinatal mental health nurses, diabetic educators, social workers and physiotherapists.
Today, the success of CMP continues, and after 20 years, the program strives to continue evolving and remaining contemporary. This year has been an exciting time with planning the 20 year celebration, undertaking an independent review of the program and having the honour of winning the Health category at the Wangaratta Business Awards. We want to continue to provide the highest level of care to our community and to meet the demand that is so obviously there. In 2019, 20 more women will gain access to continuity of midwifery care, increasing the program’s capacity to care for up to 160 women per year. With the support of Northeast Health Wangaratta’s (NHW) CEO Margaret Bennett and the Executive team and the entire maternity services team, the future is looking bright.
The current team of midwives would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of those midwives who established the strength of this model – in particular Janet Baker and Diana Marshall, both of whom have only very recently stepped out of the program enabling other midwives to move into the model.
Importantly, the families of our community who have and continue to support CMP are to be celebrated – without whom CMP wouldn’t exist. We love seeing you and your growing families and we thank you for giving us the opportunity to be a part of that.
published by the Wangaratta Chronicle