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New Women’s Health Unit Manager leads implementation of innovative model of care

Midwifery Unit Manager Zoe McKewen (centre) with Associate Midwifery Unit Managers Sue Sewell and Amy Cameron. 

Midwifery is a very challenging, but rewarding job according to Frankston Hospital’s newly appointed Midwifery Unit Manager, Zoe McKewen.

“Supporting women through their pregnancy, birth and beyond journey is a privileged and humbling role,” says Zoe.

“I feel comfortable working with and advocating for women in this special and vulnerable time in their life. Midwifery encompasses the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.”

It is an intimate and unique experience to support women through labour.

“I like the depth of it, I like that it is primal,” explains Zoe.

“You’re sharing an intimate space essentially with a stranger and there is a great responsibility that comes with that, which I take very seriously.”

“It is probably one of the most real situations you can find yourself in as well as being completely surreal at the same time.”

BEING A LEADER

Zoe was appointed the Midwifery Unit Manager of the Women’s Health Unit in March 2018. She had previously spent six months acting in the role after being an Associate Midwifery Unit Manager for two years.

“Being the Unit Manager was not something I ever coveted,” says Zoe.

“Leadership, although challenging comes relatively easily to me. I am quite comfortable with it.”

Managing the 31 Inpatient Beds, six Birth Beds and five Assessment Rooms is busy and while Zoe’s main role is supporting staff to provide the best care in a safe environment for themselves and the women, she is still involved in caring for women herself when needed.

FROM MASSAGE TO MIDWIFERY

The Southern Peninsula local did her graduate year of Midwifery training at Peninsula Health almost 10 years ago and has been a member of the team ever since.

When she finished High School, Zoe tried a few different careers first which ultimately led her to Midwifery.

“I was a bit lost at the end of Year 12. I worked in retail, did massage and remedial therapies. I then decided I needed more structure so I went to University and studied nursing,” she explains.

“I really enjoyed my acute nursing at The Alfred, I worked in the Burns Unit and learned a lot. However, I always knew my future was in Midwifery, so I studied midwifery as a post-graduate student.”

A NEW MODEL OF CARE

The Women’s Health Unit (WHU) has recently implemented a new Model of Care which has been designed to better support staff to provide the best of care to women and families.

“We like to see ourselves as a boutique unit within the hospital – the WHU includes a Birth Space, Inpatient space and Assessment area all in one ward,” explains Zoe.

After much consultation with all of the Midwives, Zoe and the team designed the new model of care, which divides the ward into a Labour and Assessment space and an Inpatient space, with an Associate Midwifery Unit Manager (AMUM) leading each area per shift. Previously one AMUM was responsible for the entire Unit per shift.

“The new model of care means we now have more staff in leadership roles and delineated clinical areas with designated staff,” says Zoe.

“This change has resulted in more clinical and personal support available to both the Labour/ Assessment and Inpatient staff. In the previous space this was not so easy to achieve.”

“We’re also rostering staff between each of the two areas, so they can be flexible and build a diverse range of skills.”

OPPORUNITIES FOR MIDWIVES

There are currently positions available for midwives to join the team in the WHU.

“The potential we have here at the moment in regards to continuing to expand and extend on what we have already started is exciting,” says Zoe. “The cohesiveness between the midwives, obstetricians, allied health and the support and administration team is continually developing.”

“We are actively working on a more robust preceptorship model and the feedback I have been getting from graduate and student midwives is that they are choosing to apply for jobs here because they feel so well supported.”

“It makes me really proud that the hard work of the midwives and their commitment to Midwifery and the WHU is being seen, felt and acknowledged. It means a lot that their attitude, kindness, respect and humanity is being fed back to me by people who have worked in and experienced this space.”

Apply online today to join Zoe and the team at Peninsula Health.