Theodore Hospital's birthing suite to remain closed
THEY raised more than $70,000 for the facility and less than two years ago they were there to celebrate its "grand reopening" after a major refurbishment.
But last month members of the Theodore community were told their hospital's state-of-the-art birthing suite would not be reopened for regular births, except in emergencies.
The decision was announced by CQ Health chief executive Steve Williamson, who said it was a matter of safety and sustainability given a lack of emergency resources.
But many of those who have delivered their children at Theodore Hospital disagree - and they are not about to take the decision lying down.
Leanne Suttle is one of almost 1500 people who have signed a change.org petition for maternity services to be reinstated at the hospital.
Ms Suttle delivered her eldest son Charlie at Theodore in 2012.
"I had always planned to have Charlie there," she said. "I was perfectly healthy, considered very low risk and I had full confidence in Bruce Chater as the obstetrician and full confidence in the midwives he had there.
"We had one-on-one care the whole time and during post-natal care afterwards.
"That continuity of care with a known midwife is extremely important."
Ms Suttle said it was vital she spoke up for other women who might not be able to afford to spend weeks away from home if they were forced to travel long distances to give birth.
"It puts not just a financial burden on the family, but an emotional burden," she said.
CQ Health chief executive Steve Williamson said the decision was made as part of a review of maternity services across CQ and was aimed at improving the safety and sustainability of maternity services.
"Key senior clinicians recommended the number of births in Theodore were insufficient to support the resources required for a safe and sustainable birthing service," he said.
Mr Williams previously cited Theodore's lack of a 24-hour anaesthetic service and the inability of clinicians to perform enough deliveries to maintain appropriate clinical credentials as key risk factors when it came to reopening the ward.
"One in every four births requires obstetric support during labour and/or an emergency operative birth," Mr Williamson said.
"The risk to women and their babies is too great."
But Ms Suttle said if the town's highly-trained obstetrician and midwives deemed a birth low-risk and there were contingencies in place, that choice should be left to the expectant mother.
"Why can't we just have that choice?" she said.