Mater's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Service is helping mums in need

Mater's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Service is helping mums in need

Throughout 2017 our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Service is celebrating their 20th anniversary.

The liaison service provides cultural support, advocacy and healthcare information to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community accessing care at Mater.

The service works closely with our hospital multidisciplinary teams and provides links between patients, families, external referral agencies, community organisations and Mater people. It also supports the Mater Mothers’ Hospital Birthing in Our Community health care program, which aims to ‘close the gap’ in maternal and infant health outcomes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. 

Over the past 20 years the service has helped many families in their time of need, including Gladstone girl Jemma Davey. 

With baby number three on the way and two little ones at home, pregnancy was ticking along for mum Jemma.

Unexpectedly at 27 weeks Jemma’s waters broke and due to Rockhampton and Gladstone hospitals not accepting the birth of babies until 32 weeks gestation, Jemma was flown to Mater Mothers’ Hospital Brisbane.

To add to the complications, Jemma has Addison Disease—a rare endocrine hormonal disorder of adrenal insufficiency that affects about 1 in 100 000 people. 

Once Jemma arrived at Mater, medical staff were confident she wasn’t going to deliver straight away. This meant she could stay at the Ronald McDonald House until bub was ready to make his entrance to the world. 

While staying at Ronald McDonald House the liaison service and social work team worked together to support Jemma’s stay in Brisbane until her baby was born.

“The service has changed my life,” Jemma said.

“They did everything for me. I literally didn’t have to move a finger. They were so helpful and they are so much more than what you hear about on the surface.”

Jemma spent a total of 12 weeks at Mater. Being so far away from home she didn’t have her usual support system, but the liaison service team were more than happy to help out however they could.

Liaison staff member Beck Thomson even accompanied Jemma in to the delivery suite for her caesarean section and the birth of baby boy Bailey. 

“Beck attended the birth of my baby and that was a really special thing,” Jemma said.

“Beck saw my baby for the first time at the same time I did and it was so valuable having someone on my side if I needed a voice.” 

Jemma has been back to Mater a few times with her Addison Disease since the birth of Bailey and each time she has been in contact with the liaison service who love to hear how Jemma and her family are.

“Mater is so lucky to have these strong women who represent our culture,” she said. 

“It’s a hard job and it can be very difficult, but for them it’s not just a job, they do it because they love it. They are a credit to the hospital.”

Pictured: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison staff member Beck Thomson with baby Bailey.

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