COVID-19 creates special connections for Mater mums

COVID-19 creates special connections for Mater mums

COVID-19 restrictions have opened the way for a unique group of staff at Mater Mothers' Hospital to form strong connections with maternity patients experiencing pregnancy complications and separated from loved ones.
Regional New South Wales mum Maxine Green spent five months at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, separated from her husband and two young sons but was never alone thanks to two ward stewards who served as her mother, grandmother, friend and confidante as she and her newborn experienced complications.
“It was an extremely challenging time for me and my family, and we are so grateful for the support that Trish and Carol provided. We couldn’t have got through it without them,” Mrs Green said.
The role of ward steward is unique to Mater Mothers’ Hospital and offers another layer of support to women and families.
Mater Mothers’ Hospital Chief Operating Officer Paula Foley said the role of ward stewards was created seven years ago as an initiative to help address some of the more practical aspects of hospital care.
“Every staff role at Mater Mothers contributes to the positive outcomes we are known for, and the position of Ward Steward is no different,” Ms Foley said.
“When difficulties arise and patients need someone to talk to but can’t reach their loved ones, we hope that every Mater person would be that listening ear. This includes our Ward Stewards too.”
Ward stewards Trish Nass and Carol Folmer say they treat each patient as if she was their own daughter and have formed deep connections with some women, earning the duo a reputation for being the brightest part of some of the more difficult days for the hospital’s mums-to-be.
With six children and nine grandchildren between them, Mrs Nass and Mrs Folmer have a wealth of maternal instinct and experience in caring for mothers and babies. 
“The last couple of years with COVID-19 and visitor restrictions, some women are often in hospital on their own,” Ms Nass said.
“When things are not going well in the pregnancy and women need someone to vent or support them, we try to help as much as we can and be there for the people who can’t.”
For Daisy Hill mum Naomi Ritchie, Ms Nass provided invaluable support during a total of six months across two pregnancies when she was at Mater Mothers’ Hospital with pregnancy complications.
“When my cervix started opening prematurely, I required emergency cervical cerclage surgery at 19 weeks gestation and was told to brace myself for the possibility of losing my baby,” Ms Ritchie said.
“Trish was the glue that held me together in every aspect of hospital life.”
It is a sentiment first-time mum Kerry O’Connell also shares, spending four months on bed rest at Mater Mothers’ Hospital before welcoming her rainbow baby in May last year.
Mrs Folmer, who has been a ward steward since the role was first created, said it was a privilege to support mums-to-be.
“The best part, and what I look forward to most, is then meeting the babies you have helped care for long before they were born – it is so lovely seeing the baby,” she said.
“It’s just like being a grandmother, you get so excited.
“It has been a blessing for me to be on the ward and help the ladies. It has been my best job and I absolutely love it.”
Having formed close bonds based on their experiences at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, Ms Green, Ms Ritchie, and Ms O’Connell reunited with Ms Nass and Ms Folmer in the lead up to Mother's Day.
“It was a heart-warming opportunity for Maxine, Naomi, and Kerry to show off their healthy and growing babies,” Ms Foley said.


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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