Wodonga baby unit a labour of love

PARENTS and their babies are arriving at a new support unit in Wodonga in ever-increasing numbers.

About 460 mums, or dads, and their babies used the new Albury Wodonga Health service in Vermont Street last month.

That compared with about 360 in December and 250 in the first full month of operation in November.

The Wodonga service opened its doors on October 29, having transferred from Mercy Health in Albury where it ran successfully for 30 years.

More than 60 people attended the unit’s official opening yesterday, including six members of a new young mothers’ group that uses the service.

Albury Wodonga Health operational director of women’s and children’s services Julie Wright said initial uncertainty over the move was soon replaced by delight at the new site’s acceptance.

“It’s absolutely taken off and been phenomenally well supported,” she said.

The unit offers a range of services and programs for families with infants aged up to nine months.

These include maternal and child and family health nurses, lactation consultants and social work support.

“Obviously people tested it and they thought ‘this is OK’, and word spread very quickly,” Ms Wright said.

Women have travelled from right across the region to use the unit — from Corryong, Dartmouth, Corowa, Deniliquin, Wagga and Albury-Wodonga, as well as one woman who came from Bendigo.

“The feel of the place is that it’s a very homely environment,” Ms Wright said.

“The staff listen and then it’s about just what we can do.”

Ms Wright said it was reassuring to know parents still felt extremely comfortable with the service, despite the move across the border.

“We’re now trying to get parents to get to us early and not wait until there’s a problem, such as the mum feeling so tired and anxious,” she said.

The service has four-hour rather than all-day stays and also runs group programs each morning and afternoon.

“It’s really about supporting and enabling and telling the parents they’re doing a great job,” she said.

“Sometimes in the past it was a case of ‘oh gosh the wheels are falling off, so now come and see us’.”

“It’s about preventing these things from happening.”

Planning is already under way for new programs and building improvements.

“At the moment the building’s probably going to be our biggest challenge,” Ms Wright said.

“It’s a fairly little house so we’re hopeful we might be able to see some funding to have something a bit more purpose-built.”

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