New mum welcomes return of maternity services at St John of God Geraldton Hospital

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
New family Mikala and James Van Niftrik with new baby Mia Van Niftrik,
Camera IconNew family Mikala and James Van Niftrik with new baby Mia Van Niftrik, Credit: Courtest Mikala Van Niftrik

After a staff shortage-induced hiatus, Geraldton’s private hospital has reopened its full suite of maternity services to local mothers.

New mum Mikala Van Niftrik was one of the first to give birth at St John of God Geraldton Hospital after it resumed planned deliveries for low risk mothers in February.

Maternity services were subsequently fully reinstated last week, with hospital chief executive Phillip Balmer saying there were now “sufficient staff” to operate.

The maternity ward was temporarily closed in November because of midwife and nursing shortages, with Geraldton Health Campus the only alternative for expectant mothers planning on having their baby in Geraldton.

Mrs Van Niftrik was about five months pregnant when the announcement threw a spanner in the works of her plan to deliver at the hospital.

She did have the option of going to another private hospital in Perth, but said she wanted to stay in Geraldton to be near family.

“The main reason we did have private health cover was so that my partner could stay with me and we could have that family time together, so that was a little bit disappointing when we realised that might not happen,” she said.

“We ended up making the decision to stay in Geraldton because it is close to home so we would have that family support around us.”

But the Van Niftriks were pleasantly surprised when St John of God Geraldton Hospital started taking bookings for caesareans and inductions just weeks before her due date.

When her daughter Mia was born on March 8, Mrs Van Niftrik said she was the only mother on the maternity ward.

“I was the only one the whole time, so I received very personal care. It was really special,” she said.

“My husband was able to stay with me so we were able to have that special time with just the three of us.

“The midwives were so lovely and helpful. I can’t fault the service and care we received.”

Much of her postnatal care has been delivered virtually because of COVID, but Mrs Van Niftrik said the online consults were still helpful.

After spending six days in hospital, Mrs Van Niftrik said the little family returned home to enjoy their new baby.

“(Having a baby) has been one of the hardest but also best things we have done. She is beautiful and we just love her,” she said.

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