The daily email to Jacinda

Practice manager Deidre Kennedy (left) and Northern Southland Health Company chairwoman Carrie Adams outside the Lumsden Maternity Centre. PHOTO: Claire Kaplan

Lumsden Maternity has begun to email PM Jacinda Ardern every day with a personal story of the impact the centre has had on local families, and is asking for more submissions from the community.

It's now been more than two months since the Southland District Health Board released its proposed model of maternity care, which if operational, would eliminate birthing services and post-natal stays at the centre. 

Northern Southland Health Company chairwoman Carrie Adams said the Lumsden Maternity Centre's requests to speak with Health Minister Dr David Clark about the issue had just been declined last week. The centre had also made the same request to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, which Mrs Adams said was forwarded to Dr Clark.

The company's directors were taking the next step by asking people to share their stories of how the centre helped them to support the case they were taking directly to Ms Ardern. Since last week they had begun sending the Prime Minister a story a day, she said. 

In a post shared on the centre's Facebook page, they wanted to hear from people happy to share an experience with how the Lumsden centre helped them.

"We need to highlight to [Ms Ardern] in our emails examples of how vulnerable our women and their babies will become if [Lumsden] Maternity is downgraded," the post says.

"We need to show we are real women, not just birth numbers and stats."

Mrs Adams referenced the popular "Save Lumsden Maternity 2018" Facebook group page as an example that showcased personal stories of Lumsden's importance in the community.

People who had shared their stories online and were happy for the centre to include them in their submission to Ms Ardern should get in touch with the centre, Mrs Adams said. 

A spokesman for Dr Clark said the Minister was well aware of the local concerns about the future of the Lumsden Maternity Centre, and he had made clear to the Southern DHB his expectation that mothers and babies in the area would continue to receive quality maternity services.

But how those services were delivered was an operational matter for the DHB.

"The Minister has received requests for meetings about the centre. In the first instance he believes the community's concerns should be directed to the DHB."

The Southern DHB announced in March a proposed model of maternity care that would mean the Lumsden Maternity Centre would no longer serve as a primary birthing unit and would instead become one of three "Maternal and Child Hubs" in the Southland District. Other hubs included Te Anau and Tuatapere. 

The Southern DHB received more than 200 submissions in response to the plan.

The DHB told the centre on Friday (May 11) that the health board would not be making a final announcement about the proposal until after the Government announced its budget.


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