BABY BLAYZE: Roxanne Kernick holds her son Blayze at the Coffs Harbour maternity ward.
BABY BLAYZE: Roxanne Kernick holds her son Blayze at the Coffs Harbour maternity ward. Rob Wright

Mum upset about separation

AN EXPERIENCE which was traumatic at the time, but which ended happily, has a local mum both thankful and disappointed about the strengths and shortcomings of the local health system.

When Roxanne Kernick went into labour seven weeks early her life was turned upside down.

She was flown by air ambulance to Sydney because the Coffs Harbour Health Campus is unable to deliver babies less than 34 weeks gestation.

There she waited for another week for her son to arrive, and then a fortnight before a bed became available back in Coffs Harbour.

While Ms Kernick doesn’t blame the hospital for being split from her fiancé and three young children, she was frustrated that it took two weeks for a bed to become available in the Coffs Harbour special-care maternity unit.

“I was discharged from Liverpool hospital two days after giving birth to Blayze on July 9,” Ms Kernick said.

“I only knew one person in Sydney and was lucky to be able to stay with her but she had four children of her own and works full-time so it was difficult for me to get to hospital and visit my baby and heartbreaking to leave him there.

“My fiancé had to stay in Coffs Harbour and continue to work his two jobs to support our family.

She said the situation left him struggling to work and look after their children who he eventually sent to Townsville to be minded by their grandparents as a result.

Ms Kernick was reunited with her family on July 21 and picked Blayze up from the Coffs Harbour special-care unit today.

“It’s such a relief to be home and we had a very emotional reunion,” she said.

“It was hard to be away from my family but the nurses in both hospitals were lovely and I’m so grateful for their support.”

A Mid North Coast Local Health District spokeswoman said the Coffs Harbour Health Campus maternity unit only provides birthing services for babies after 34 weeks gestation.

“Premature births are considered high risk deliveries and premature babies require high level paediatric care,” the spokeswoman said.

“To ensure the best care is provided for mother and newborn, it is sometimes necessary to refer patients to a larger hospital with specialist staff and equipment to provide patients with the best possible treatment.”

She said it is clinical protocol for risk category patients to be transferred to receive a specialised level of care.

“These specialist services are only offered in metropolitan areas and depending on patient specific circumstances they may even bypass John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

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