"Personal and heart warming care received at The Townsville Hospital"

About: The Townsville Hospital / Maternity Unit

(as the patient),

Following the advice of my midwife, I visited the Townsville birth suites one night to confirm that my waters had broken. They had. For most women, they would have been sent home at that point to wait until labour began. In my case however, because I had had previous caesareans and was hoping for a vaginal birth (VBAC), the doctor advised me to stay until the baby was born. That was the start of four long, eventful, and amazing days. Throughout my time there, I was cared for by many doctors, midwives and nurses. I was always delighted by the care, concern and help I received from everyone. They were very upbeat, friendly and encouraging. So many people made me feel cared for that it brings tears to my eyes. Once I was in the maternity ward, after the birth of my baby, a few of the key people who had journeyed with me over the first two days came to simply say hi, congratulations and to see how I was going.

The journey to have a VBAC sometimes felt like an uphill one throughout my pregnancy. It required some personal resolve to not simply agree to another caesarean birth. Once in the hospital however, I was continuously delighted by the support I received to maintain this resolve. I never felt pressured to question my decision. It felt like the doctors I met were determined along with me to make the VBAC happen. It felt like I had teammates in this pursuit. It is easy to feel vulnerable in a hospital setting, but instead I always felt encouraged and supported in the lead-up to my baby’s birth.

There is one notable exception to this glowing report. When I was in labour, about 6 hours before my baby was actually born, a new doctor came to examine me. They came in saying that they were in a rush and had to get to the operating theatre, but that they would quickly do a vaginal exam. I agreed and the doctor attempted the exam, but it was pretty painful. I think I was having a contraction while they were inside me. They stopped, appearing annoyed, declaring that they couldn’t complete the exam. The doctor didn’t think that I had dilated any more since the last time I was examined. They said that I couldn’t handle the pain, that my contractions weren’t strong enough to advance my labour and that I could be having contractions (which already felt pretty strong and painful) for another 12 hours or more. I felt like their words all but said, “I don’t think you can do this. ” The doctor's report was so discouraging and was not delivered in a gentle or caring way. The news absolutely broke me and I was never able to regain my composure and concentration that had been helping me get through the contractions. It was such a delicate time in my labour and they gave me more than I could handle. I absolutely could not manage the pain after that and eventually had an epidural (which was amazing! ). I am believe that, considering that the doctor was in a rush, they should not have come in to examine me. Another doctor who had the time to be patient, gentle, considerate and communicate well should have come in. Thankfully, the doctor who came in after them was in such a position. they were lovely and obviously cared about helping me through my labour and achieving a successful VBAC (which I eventually did! ). The visit from that first doctor was the low point of my time at the hospital. I believe they should never have come into my room without the time to spend with me.

Despite this one blemish in my time there, I am so thankful for the care I received at the Townsville Hospital. Not only was it professional and effective, it was personal and heart-warming. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Responses

Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services

Dear PONOV20,

Firstly, let me congratulate you on the safe arrival of your baby, how wonderful! I sincerely thank you for sharing such a personal and moving story and I will take great delight in sharing your words with the dedicated and highly skilled staff in the birth suite and maternity ward.

How touching that some staff even made an effort to follow up on your wellbeing after you baby was born! That shows how passionate they really are about their profession.

It is heart-warming to know that not only did you receive care that was professional and effective, but it was also how you were made to feel through their encouragement and support.

I am really sorry to hear how your experience had a regrettable exception that left you with the feeling of being disheartened during a time when you were indeed, vulnerable during such a delicate time. I apologise that you’ve experienced this and please know that we take feedback such as yours very seriously and I will be passing on your feedback to the Director of Health & Wellbeing Service Group today.

It is important for me to highlight your comment about how easy it is for patients to feel vulnerable in a hospital setting, and so it will be essential that when your story is shared that your comment should be seriously noted as a way for all staff to remember that we, as health care workers, have a huge impact on how we make people in our care, feel. It is for this reason, PONOV20 that I again sincerely thank you for sharing your story, as it is this type of feedback that reminds us that it is not just about what we do, it’s also about how we do it.

Your story will help us to become better nurses, better doctors, and better at delivering healthcare in our hospital.

Thank you again PONOV20, I wish you and your family all the very best for the future.

With warm regards,

Julie Shepherd

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