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Maternity unit staff and expecting mothers booked in at South-Eastern Private Hospital in Noble Park were given only three days notice of tomorrow’s closure of the hospital’s maternity unit.
Chief executive officer Neil Henderson has guaranteed that 250 booked-in expectant mothers would be placed in other hospitals this year, some as soon as this weekend.
‘‘Everyone [due this weekend] seems to have been accommodated,’’ he said.
‘‘Some were upset at first but they calmed down a bit when we have been able to make alternative arrangements.’’
This week, 25 midwives found out they would finish up at the hospital tomorrow.
Mr Henderson defended the late notice given to patients and staff.
‘‘Already we’ve had staff take sick leave as soon as they knew that it would close,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s why we gave a short lead-in — we could have been still open but with no midwives. It was a safety issue.’’
He was confident midwives who wanted to continue to work would find placements at Knox Private Hospital, The Bays Hospital in Mornington and St John of God Hospital in Berwick — all were ‘‘actively recruiting’’, he said.
‘‘Some of the staff were upset. We offered everyone a chance to stay on. They could do retraining. They are, after all, already trained nurses in some way.’’
Mr Henderson said there was no shortage of vacancies for expectant mums private health system in the in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs.
‘‘Private hospitals are scrambling for business. They’ve been very obliging to take our customers.’’
Demographics and rising competition from other hospitals, particularly Casey Hospital and St John of God in Berwick, were to blame for the unit’s closure, he said.
The unit relied heavily on patients from Casey, given its nearest suburbs Noble Park and Dandenong were of low socio-economic status.
At its peak, the unit was delivering about 800 babies a year. It has since dropped to about 500 — about three every two days.
‘‘It was not very viable to deliver a high level of service,’’ Mr Henderson added.
‘‘Young women are more aware and do their own research. They’re more likely to choose the high clinical set-up at Monash Medical Centre.’’
The hospital would be focusing on sub-acute services such as oncology and rehab units. ‘‘It’s a sad day but the right decision.’’