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Meet 2021 Collaborative Team Award Winners, the Midwifery Unit of the Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation

3 Dec 2021

In the Far West region of New South Wales, Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation have been doing things differently. Midwife Debbie Towns discusses their innovative transition to a digital antenatal record, and the many benefits it has brought the community.

The 2021 Col­lab­o­ra­tive Team Award is spon­sored Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC)

Team mem­bers include Dr Main­ul Khan, Dr Nalin Fon­se­ka, Zoe Andrews (Health Pro­mo­tions Offi­cer), Wendy Arney (Dietit­ian), Kiah Howard (Recep­tion­ist), Deb­bie Towns (Mid­wife), Robert Ritchie (Clin­ic Team Leader), Tim­my Gor­don (Abo­rig­i­nal Men­tal Health Peer Sup­port Work­er), Guy Mitchell (Trans­port Offi­cer), Jus­tine Williams (Health Ser­vices Man­ag­er), and Michelle Ter­rick (Prac­tice Nurse).

We’re so excit­ed,” says Mid­wife Deb­bie Towns. This puts us on the map!”

Left to right: Dr Main­ul Khan, Wendy Arney (Dietit­ian), Kiah Howard (Recep­tion), Deb Towns (Mid­wife), Robert Ritchie (Clin­ic Team Leader), Tim­my Gor­don (AMH­P­SW), Guy Mitchell (Trans­port offi­cer) & Jus­tine Williams (HSM).

The Abo­rig­i­nal-led mid­wifery unit in the Far West region of NSW has approx­i­mate­ly 2000 clients on its books, cov­er­ing ground from Robin­vale across to Went­worth, up to Bro­ken Hill and to the Mil­du­ra border.”

We’re a pret­ty close-knit team. Every­one pulls their weight,” con­tin­ues Ms Towns. From the recep­tion staff who make the process smooth and book you the appoint­ment, to the team of doc­tors and Abo­rig­i­nal Health Work­ers (AHW) who take your bloods and things like that; then to the mid­wife for ante­na­tal and post­na­tal, and to the AHW who will go and vis­it clients in the com­mu­ni­ty as well. We’ve also got an obste­tri­cian that comes once a fort­night to the Dare­ton pri­ma­ry health build­ing across the road.”

One of their major recent achieve­ments includes tran­si­tion­ing to a dig­i­tal ante­na­tal record fol­low­ing com­mu­ni­ty consultation.

Left to right: Dr Nalin Fon­se­ka, Zoe Andrews ( Health Pro­mo­tions offi­cer) Jus­tine Williams (HSM), Michelle Ter­rick (Prac­tice Nurse) & Dr Main­ul Khan.

Ideas need to start from the grass roots, rather than com­ing from the top down,” Ms Towns said.

We have a lit­tle card, or a wal­let, that sticks to your mobile phone or sim­i­lar, then your lit­tle USB card will go into there, so for the dura­tion of your preg­nan­cy, you can car­ry it with your phone. It’s called the CHAC Elec­tron­ic Mater­ni­ty Record (CEMR).

The CEMR has been designed in line with the mod­el of paper­less clin­i­cal notes. The CEMR reduces the risk of tran­scrib­ing errors as the orig­i­nals are uploaded to the CEMR USB card.

Our local com­mu­ni­ty who are util­is­ing our new CEMR find it extreme­ly ben­e­fi­cial, as it’s up to date with mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy; it fits in their wal­lets and purses.

The first fam­i­ly to use the new CEMR: Tyneille, Gre­go­ry (Tom Tom) and Lakai­jah from Dareton.

As a mid­wife for many years, one thing that has been an issue is that the mater­ni­ty hand­held record often gets mis­placed or left at home. This new card has changed our clin­i­cal prac­tice and ensures all client infor­ma­tion is stored and on hand, ready to go, espe­cial­ly on those rare occa­sions when spe­cial­ist fol­low-up is required – because the med­ical infor­ma­tion that is need­ed to pro­vide that fur­ther treatment/​management is there ready to go.

This CEMR Card also saves not only us here at CHAC but oth­er organ­i­sa­tions the time of request­ing patient records, pathol­o­gy results, and ultra­sound reports.

The CEMR includes sub­head­ings for ease of locat­ing patient infor­ma­tion, a link to the CHAC web­site and a mes­sage from our CEO Sum­mer Hunt.

Ultra­sounds images are uploaded at each ges­ta­tion to show baby’s growth and pro­mote fam­i­ly bond­ing. This CEMR also makes for a nice keep­sake for our families.”

Ms Towns also iden­ti­fies the enhanced pri­va­cy, the abil­i­ty to sani­tise the card, and the involve­ment of many indi­vid­u­als (includ­ing a local artist) as key benefits.

Do you know a team doing amaz­ing work in rur­al or remote Aus­tralia? Nom­i­nate them for a CRANAplus Award when appli­ca­tions open.