Border closure impacts birth services

By Daniel Hughes

Murrumbidgee Local Health District has confirmed that expecting mothers can travel to Victoria for delivery as scheduled but advise they seek other options as well.

A spokesperson from MLHD said self-isolation rules apply to anyone travelling across the border on their return to NSW.

To avoid this, it recommends finding another local hospital in NSW.

“All border community residents needing to access medical services across the border are eligible for a permit through Service NSW,” the spokesperson said.

“Under the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020, if entering NSW from Victoria patients will be required to self-isolate for 14 days

“Expectant mothers who would normally birth in Victoria based on their assessed risk also have the option to birth at Wagga Wagga or Griffith Base Hospital if they prefer.

“This can be discussed with their midwife.”

Tocumwal's Sharon Stevens is currently 32 weeks pregnant and has experienced her fair share of anxiety since border restrictions set in.

The unexpected issues started earlier this year during the Coronavirus pandemic, adding to the stress of her birth plan.

“Although I live in Tocumwal, I'm planning to have bub in Wangaratta,” Mrs Stevens said.

“It's been difficult throughout COVID-19 because my husband Paul hasn't been able to come to any appointments or ultrasounds.

“We've been told that only one support person can be there during the birth and while in hospital.

“There are no swap outs which means my mum can't come and support me instead.

“With current border restrictions and Victorian lockdowns, I'm able to attend antenatal appointments but when it comes to birth, if restrictions are still in place, we will have to self isolate for 14 days after we return from hospital.

“If I do give birth in the next couple of weeks I'll be airlifted to Melbourne which is terrifying and again we will need to self isolate when we return.”

Mrs Stevens has also voiced her concerns for the lack of transparency throughout the pandemic.

“There has been a real lack of information since the border closures and it's been an anxious time having to travel to Victoria for appointments.”