Jacquie Henning, who was pregnant in 2019, expected to give birth in Werribee Mercy Hospital. It is a 10-minute drive from Jacquie’s Point Cook home.
However, she was informed that the hospital was full.
“I was quite shocked, it’s the local hospital,” Ms Henning stated.
“I would assume that everyone in this region would go there.”
Instead, she was transferred from Sunshine to Sunshine. Sunshine is about a 45-minute drive if traffic was good.
“We would book appointments at 10 o’clock to avoid traffic jams and get there on-time,” Ms Henning stated.
This is a common experience for people who have their babies in Melbourne’s outer west. There, the population grows much faster than the hospital.
Werribee Mercy Hospital was home to 3,897 babies in 2019, but data from the council revealed that 4,745 children were born to local families.
Many were sent to Sunshine Beach and Geelong.
Births by the side of the road
Jacquie Henning said that she had a positive experience with giving birth at Sunshine Hospital.
Kathy McMahon, Werribee Mercy Hospital’s director of paediatrics, said that many pregnant ladies got stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital.
She said, “We have had women give birth on the side of the road and the ambulance brought them here due to, you know traffic.”
Dr McMahon said that this happens approximately once per month.
This is only one sign that Werribee Mercy Hospital is not keeping up with the community.
Dr McMahon said that children were being transferred from one hospital to another for orthopaedics, most surgeries, MRI scans, inpatient psychiatric care, and other procedures.
She suggested that the hospital have a pediatric emergency department.
She said, “Our ED has reached its end of life…it’s not appropriate for children.”