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  • Written by Sequel PR

Expectant mums from the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales whose maternity classes had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic will now have the chance to complete their antenatal sessions with an experienced midwife, virtually.

In a first for John Flynn Private Hospital, antenatal classes are being delivered online with an expert midwife at the Tugun health facility beaming directly into the homes of expectant mums and their partners.

John Flynn Private Hospital Nurse Unit Manager Gaylene Hardwick said after 20 years as a midwife and educator, she was excited to deliver the first antenatal class via Ramsay Health Care’s virtual care platform.

“Most of these women are first-time mums and are in the final stages of their pregnancy so it’s a really important time,” Ms Hardwick said.

“Many of them are extremely anxious, not just about their upcoming birth but also about the risks of COVID-19, and we want to be there for them so they can feel confident about having their babies.

“It’s great that, despite COVID-19 restrictions, these mums-to-be can ask me all their questions about the birth and what it’s like to have a newborn baby rather than relying on Dr Google.”

John Flynn Private Hospital’s Head of Obstetrics Dr Genevieve Bishop said Ramsay Health Care had transformed its antenatal program in record time in direct response to the social distancing measures required for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We identified that we could no longer have the group antenatal classes the way we traditionally would, but we didn’t want our mums to miss out,” Dr Bishop said.

“Pregnancy can be a really anxious time and that anxiety can increase when there’s a lack of knowledge. We want to make sure we equip our mums with the information they need so they can move forward in their pregnancy with excitement and confidence.”

Burleigh Heads mum-to-be Sarah-Jane Green and her partner Paul were amongst the first couples to complete the online classes.

“Being first time parents, we were anxious at the thought of not being able to participate in antenatal classes and really appreciated that the John Flynn team made it happen for us,” Mrs Green said.

“It gave us invaluable information and it was great to meet members of the midwife team as well as have a virtual tour of the birthing suites which we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see in the current situation.

“And because there weren’t as many couples in the class as there would normally be, it was really personalised and I loved that we could do it in the comfort of our own home.”

A dedicated multi-professional team, including experts from technology, legal, innovation and medicine helped deliver the project in record time, ensuring elements like patient privacy and confidentiality were maintained.

Dr Bishop said COVID-19 was forcing health providers to find innovative ways to continue delivering patient care.

“The technology we’re using for virtual maternity sessions could also be used to provide other consultations, such as the Know My Midwife program, mental health consultations and other Ramsay Health Care services, such as physiotherapy,” she said.

Dr Bishop said the virtual sessions would be rolled out at other Ramsay Health Care hospitals around the country and urged patients to contact their local facility for further information.

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