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'Code blue' mother says hospital staff 'amazing'

Date

Peter Jean

Dave and Annette Holland at home with one of their twin girls, Ava.

Dave and Annette Holland at home with one of their twin girls, Ava. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Dave Holland decided not to worry his wife Annette when he heard nurses discussing that a ''code blue'' call for help resuscitating a baby had been missed by staff at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children about an hour earlier.

Mr Holland suspected, and it was later confirmed, that the call had been for help with his twin daughter Ava, who had been born with a ''wet lung''.

The missed call was caused by a misunderstanding of communications protocols at the new hospital. Luckily for the Holland family, the neonatal intensive care doctor and nurse who were being paged were already in the theatre to attend to Ava and her sister Mia, who had been delivered by emergency caesarean section at almost 35 weeks gestation.

The Hollands contacted The Canberra Times after the code blue incident was reported last week, along with the news that a wood panel had fallen from a wall in the hospital, hitting a baby's cot.

Mrs Holland praised the doctors, nurses and midwives at the hospital but was concerned that pressure placed on them - especially to discharge patients quickly - could lead to poor outcomes for mothers and babies.

''Just from talking to the staff, I really feel for them. It's amazing they can work under this pressure,'' Mrs Holland said.

Mrs Holland was booked to have a caesarean because one of the twins was in the breach position but went to hospital after going into labour early. She said she was left alone with her husband for more than an hour while a midwife attended to another patient.

By the time the midwife returned, labour had progressed so rapidly the Hollands were warned vaginal deliveries may be necessary.

But the caesarean was able to go ahead.

Mrs Holland said on her fourth day in the hospital she was told she may be discharged later that day.

Upon returning from a visit to the twins in the neonatal intensive care unit, she discovered her personal belongings had been removed from her room and a cleaner was in the process of taking breast milk she had expressed for the twins from the fridge.

Mrs Holland spent the next two hours in a waiting room before she was discharged.

''I told a nurse I felt like a homeless person,'' she said.

After initially being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, Ava and Mia were transferred to the special care nursery at Calvary Hospital.

Ava was discharged on Friday but Mia was expected to remain in hospital for several more days.

A Health Directorate spokeswoman said the code blue incident had been a misunderstanding and the appropriate support was on hand to ensure the twins were well cared for.

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