Julie Kinloch: Lead Maternity Carer

Napier midwife Julie Kinloch stuck a pen and paper to her front door to communicate with hāpu māmā after Cyclone Gabrielle wiped out communications in the region.

As a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC), so much of her job relies on good communication with the women within her care.

Julie knows the Napier community well, having worked as a midwife for at least 35 years.

“I’ve birthed thousands of babies and I’m now caring for the second generation, working with women and men whom I attended 20 or 30 years ago.”

An article she read as a teenager in the Women’s Weekly sparked her interest in midwifery.

“It was about a Christchurch midwife and I thought that sounds like me. I came from a family of four girls and was always interested in women and babies. I was required to train as a nurse first but when I got to my placement in maternity it was just the right fit.”

Julie works out of the Midwifery Centre in Kennedy Road which was established in the nineties to give Napier women and midwives a local clinical space.

On 14 February Napier residents woke to no power, no communication and the news that the bridges were unusable, cutting the city off to the region’s hospital and maternity services.

Julie drove to work to grab her homebirthing bag and Cardiotocography (CTG) machine to take down to Napier Health Centre where she was given a small room to use as a birthing space if needed.

“I popped out to source more medical supplies and woollies and set up a room so if somebody turned up, we could care for them, and I stayed there for 20 hours.”

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand flew in supplies from Hastings and more local midwifery support arrived allowing the LMCs and hospital midwives trapped in Napier to draw up a roster.

Julie visited clients due over the next month and gave them her home address telling them to leave a note on a piece of paper stuck to her door if she wasn’t in. It worked well as two women left messages asking for consultations.

The make-shift maternity suite was used for check-ups and consultations for anyone dropping by and just a handful of women were transported to Hawke’s Bay Hospital for ongoing care.

The temporary maternity suite was disestablished a week later once the roads were assessable.

Julie said her actions were just a small part in the bigger picture of health professionals coming together to support each other and the community.

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