In 1992 I established ‘Pregnancy Birth and Beyond’ initially to run community based childbirth education classes and later on my private midwifery practice and website www.pregnancy.com.au (all of which operated out of my home). As business grew Pregnancy Birth and Beyond evolved in structure from a business name to an incorporated company in 2011. In March 2012 I decided to take a leap of faith and move my private midwifery practice and online business from my home and take over the lease of an operating medical centre in North Parramatta. At the time of my take over there was one part time general practitioner working out of the medical centre two days a week.
I am very lucky as the centre is beautiful. It was renovated not that long ago and a lot of thought has gone into the renovations. As you walk through the front gates you see the manicured gardens and water features. You enter the centre through double glass doors into the large waiting area. In the waiting room you look back through large glass panels to the manicured gardens. We’ve made use of the space in the waiting area by installing a wall of glass cabinets that display a range of pregnancy, birth and baby products as well as natural health products. The centre is decorated throughout with pregnancy and baby photos kindly supplied by a local photographer and original Aboriginal artwork.
"PBB Health Centre: Midwifery and Medicine Working Together"
Within the centre there are four consulting rooms, a large treatment room that contains two beds, a pathology service and a staff room. The PBB Health Centre is quite a large facility. With only two health practitioners working out of the PBB Health centre when I took over it needed to grow quickly. Over the last 18 months the team at PBB Health Centre has worked extremely hard at building the practice. The vision was that the PBB Health Centre would become not just a ‘Medical Centre’ but a ‘Medical and Midwifery Centre’. And that is just what it has become. From meagre beginnings the centre has grown exponentially.
The PBB Health Centre is the first Medical and Midwifery Centre in NSW providing a wide range of traditional and contemporary health services. We are now staffed with four General Practitioners (GPs), a Medicare Eligible Midwife, two Practice Nurse/Midwives and Lactation Consultant, Psychologist specialising in perinatal health, dietitian, yoga practitioner and highly skilled administrative staff. The PBB Health Centre offers a range of health services to address community needs. These include:
Most of the services are provided from within the PBB Health Centre however we do home visits for postnatal care, lactation consultations and for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients within a short radius of the centre.
Figure 1 – Map of Service Area (Google Maps)
The most challenging part of the journey was recruiting general practitioners to work in the centre. There is a huge shortage of appropriately qualified GPs able to work in metropolitan areas. Thankfully after persistent recruiting we now have four female GPs working within the practice. Our team is still growing – we have another Medicare eligible midwife joining our team shortly and another GP planning to start next January.
As a midwife this has been a very rewarding process. In the beginning I didn’t realise how well midwifery and general practice can work together. The two way consultation and collaboration that occurs on a day to day basis is wonderful. The GPs often consult me for pregnancy, postnatal or lactation issues and I consult them on medical issues. Another bonus of working out of the centre is that I now have clients who are very local. Prior I travelled all over Sydney to see my midwifery clients. Through word of mouth, advertising and having a very visible community presence the PBB Health Centre is attracting women in the local area who are actively seeking midwifery care who otherwise would go through the public health system. This is quite exciting as private midwifery care and shared midwifery care are very new concepts for a lot of people. I can see a very big future for private midwifery care both in this model of care and in group midwifery practice. The opportunity for private midwives is unlimited.
Article originally appeared in Midwifery Matters Vol 31, No. 4 December 2013 pages 8-9.