Early Pregnancy Unit to be added to Centenary Expansion Project

Released 21/08/2020

Women with complications relating to early pregnancy, including early pregnancy loss, will be able to access care in a new dedicated Early Pregnancy Unit to be built at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

The Early Pregnancy Unit is being added under a change of scope to the $50 million Expansion Project already underway at the Centenary Hospital.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said this change responds to recommendations of the recently issued Report of the Inquiry into Maternity Services in the ACT.

"The Report made a number of recommendations relating to perinatal loss, including the need for health services to provide appropriate accommodation to women and their families who experience early pregnancy loss.

"This new Unit will provide women and families with the support and care required during an incredibly difficult and emotional time.

"Many women and their families shared their experiences to help us build a better, person and baby centered maternity care system. This new Unit is a direct result of what we heard through the Inquiry and I sincerely thank every person involved for their invaluable contributions," said Minister Stephen-Smith.

The Early Pregnancy Unit will support all complications relating to early pregnancy, including early pregnancy loss. Adjacent to the antenatal ward, the Unit will be purpose-built to offer a therapeutic and healing environment and will be staffed by a skilled, multidisciplinary team.

The Unit will provide better purpose-built spaces to provide a more holistic care for women and their families. Canberra Health Services clinicians and the design team worked closely with patient and advocate, Karen Schlage, to develop the concept.

During the Inquiry, Mrs Schlage generously shared her story of losing her son Charlie, who was delivered on a surgical ward after laboring in an Emergency Department. Last year, Karen and her husband sadly also lost a daughter, Sophia, at Centenary Hospital at just under 17 weeks.

"Karen has been a powerful voice for many women and families. Her input has played a pivotal role in ensuring that women experiencing early pregnancy loss will receive the emotional support and clinical care they need in the future," said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Mrs Schlage said was pleased to help address the lack of a dedicated facility for women and their families for early pregnancy loss in Canberra. Being a part of it had created a legacy for Charlie and Sophia, keeping their memory alive. She was thrilled at the speed with which the decision had come about, too.

"It's really a testament to how much people have genuinely listened, engaged and acted.

"What we went through when we lost Charlie showed us what needed to change in the system, but our experience losing Sophia showed us what was possible and the sort of care and emotional support that I hope that all women losing a baby will be able to experience.

"I'm really sorry that women and families will need to use this new Early Pregnancy Unit, but at the same time I am so grateful that they will be able to," Mrs Schlage said.

The next stage of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children Expansion Project is about to begin with the construction of a new Clinical Administration Building.

The Centenary Hospital for Women and Children Expansion also includes a refurbished Paediatric High Care Ward, a new Adolescent Mental Health Unit, expanded Maternity Unit and a new Gynaecology Procedure Suite.

- Statement ends -

Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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