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2022 Ray Wyeth Early to Remote Practice Award recipient Lorraine Woods

10 Dec 2022

The recipient of the Ray Wyeth Early to Remote Practice Award, Lorraine Woods, transitioned to remote health in 2021, joining the new Palm Cockatoo Midwifery Group Practice in Weipa, Cape York. She discusses what motivated her move, what she’s gained from it, the role of the Endorsed Midwife, and indicators of success.

The Ray Wyeth Ear­ly to Remote Prac­tice Award was spon­sored by Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty – Rur­al and Remote Health.

No two jour­neys to remote health are quite the same. Two main influ­ences guid­ed Lor­raine Woods down the bush track. 

It began with the inspir­ing sto­ries shared by her late men­tor Ray Wyeth, who she worked with at St Stephens Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal and lat­er Her­vey Bay Hos­pi­tal. Then a chance vehi­cle break­down in Weipa sealed the deal. 

That hap­pened on a Cape trip last year,” Lor­raine says. I had a friend work­ing at Aurukun, and she was here at [Weipa Inte­grat­ed Health Ser­vice] and was telling me about the project. I thought, I could do this.” 

The Project she’s refer­ring to is the recent­ly launched Palm Cock­a­too Mid­wifery Group Prac­tice, with­in the Weipa Mater­ni­ty Ser­vice, which fol­lows a women-cen­tred mid­wifery group prac­tice mod­el of care. After apply­ing in August 2021, Lor­raine com­menced in Octo­ber, and has since worked as a Clin­i­cal Mid­wife, Clin­i­cal Mid­wife Con­sul­tant, and with­in the apt­ly named MUM role – Mid­wifery Unit Manager. 

We’re here as a Group Prac­tice so we can offer con­ti­nu­ity of care – see clients from the start, through their jour­ney, help them have their beau­ti­ful birth, and get a healthy neonate,” Lor­raine says. 

It doesn’t mat­ter who you are. Every­one should have equi­ty. Every­one should be enti­tled to health­care. It’s about try­ing to allow the women in com­mu­ni­ties to expe­ri­ence the same out­comes that we do in big cities.

By allow­ing our women, in com­mu­ni­ties, to have acces­si­ble care, we can pro­mote birth as a nat­ur­al and nor­mal thing and get healthy babies and healthy mums. They don’t have to travel.” 

Women from neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing Mapoon and Napranum, are on the group practice’s cur­rent caseload.

The ser­vice is aim­ing to deliv­er in-depth care even fur­ther afield, such as in Lock­hart Riv­er and Coen, through tele­health, employ­ment of more mid­wives and Abo­rig­i­nal Health Work­ers, and oth­er solu­tions still under discussion. 

They cur­rent­ly fol­low an all-risk mod­el for ante­na­tal and post­na­tal, and a low-risk mod­el for birth. High­er risk women are trans­ferred to Cairns. 

[Some­times] we’ve missed out on the birthing,” Lor­raine says, which is okay, because birthing is only a small part. We’ve looked after them all their ante­na­tal care, for 36 weeks. They’ve gone to Cairns and come back when the baby is a week old. You’ve missed five weeks, but all that edu­ca­tion you offered… they’ve obvi­ous­ly lis­tened. Things are work­ing out.

Wraps sewn by a friend of mid­wife Lor­raine Woods, Ker­ry Riley who works in the mater­ni­ty team at Her­vey Bay.

Our breast­feed­ing rates are real­ly high. To have a baby that is breast­feed­ing is so impor­tant. Our women have felt they’ve had enough edu­ca­tion that it’s work­ing for them. Hav­ing your lady answer the door breast­feed­ing their baby is just amazing.

” Lorraine’s ear­li­er com­mit­ments to pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment are now pay­ing div­i­dends, with her six-month Phar­ma­col­o­gy post-grad course lead­ing to her sta­tus as an Endorsed Midwife.

This AHPRA endorse­ment makes it pos­si­ble, with­in the bounds of leg­is­la­tion and health ser­vice accred­i­ta­tion process­es, to pre­scribe cer­tain med­i­cines, order bloods or ultra­sounds, and pro­vide asso­ci­at­ed ser­vices. Lor­raine views this as the mid­wifery equiv­a­lent of Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er endorse­ment and is hope­ful it will enable her to max­imise con­ti­nu­ity of care on the Cape.

On the ground, she’s learned a lot about work­ing cross-cul­tur­al­ly. She’s realised the impor­tance of rap­port, adapt­ed to that fact that part­ners may not always be present because of Women’s Busi­ness, and tak­en the advice of two First Nations mid­wives on the team.

Tak­en togeth­er, these achieve­ments earned Lor­raine the CRANAplus Ray Wyeth Ear­ly to Remote Prac­tice Award, which was pre­sent­ed at the 39th CRANAplus Con­fer­ence in Adelaide.

I was real­ly wrapped to be the recip­i­ent of the award, espe­cial­ly because Ray was part of my life and my jour­ney and my career.”

She extends a warm thank you to her col­leagues and is excit­ed about her future on the Cape, as she pre­pares for a sec­ond­ment to Thurs­day Island as Clin­i­cal Midwife.

For more infor­ma­tion on our awards and the nom­i­na­tion process vis­it Awards, Schol­ar­ships & Grants.