Temporary changes to Women, Youth and Children services

We’ve made some changes to the way we deliver Women, Youth and Children health services to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

In line with current restrictions due to COVID-19 and with the ACT Government’s announcement on 25 March 2020 to reduce all non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity, Canberra Health Services have implemented a number of changes. Look in the drop-down menus below for more information about these changes.

The health of our clients, visitors and staff is our biggest priority. We have made changes to how we deliver our services, to ensure we continue to keep our community safe while providing the highest level of care.

This is an overwhelming time for people, particularly new parents or mums-to-be. Please be assured we are working hard to find new ways of delivering services to support you at this time, including the use of telephone and the Telehealth Platform which allows for face-to-face health care in a digital format.

These changes will help to contain the spread of COVID-19 and decrease demand on our health system.

Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support phone line

The Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support phone line has been established to support families with early pregnancy, maternal and child health and development, breastfeeding and emotional wellbeing concerns.

You may call 5124 1775 anytime and leave a voicemail with your name, best contact number and reason for your call and a health professional will call you back within one business day between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Depending on the nature of your call, you may speak to:

  • Midwives—for early pregnancy enquiries
  • Maternal and Child Health nurses—for parenting, breastfeeding, feeding, settling and sleeping enquiries, immunisation and any worries about your child’s development
  • Counsellors—who can provide emotional wellbeing support especially for those who are pregnant, partnered to a pregnant person, or parenting young children
  • Allied Health Professionals—for nutrition and physiotherapy enquiries including care and information for pregnant women, mothers, infants and young children.
Visitors at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our patients, babies and staff safe, Canberra Health Services has limited the number of visitors to all sites, including Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

The visitor arrangements are as follows:

  • Patients will now be able to have up to two visitors per day – one visitor per patient at a time.
  • Children aged 17 and under may have one parent or carer present at all times. Both parents can be present for up to an hour each day to encourage family time.
  • Women who are admitted for care related to birthing may also have two support persons present. General visiting arrangements will apply when they are in the antenatal and postnatal wards.

The visitor policy will continue to be applied with compassion and common sense.

Compassionate exceptions to the visitor policy will continue to be determined on a case by case basis. These decisions will be made in consultation with the relevant clinical staff.

It is important to remember that social distancing principles still apply to all visiting the hospital.

We’re also discouraging families from bringing their children on site, if possible.

Visitors should not visit the Centenary Hospital if they:

  • are unwell
  • have recently travelled overseas or recently been on a cruise ship
  • are in self-isolation
  • have been in contact with someone with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • This includes the neonatal intensive care and paediatrics wards or accompanying patients to community based appointments.
Maternity care at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

Currently, you have access to the full range of birthing options offered by Canberra Health Services including home birth and the Birth Centres. If birth services need to change due to increasing rates of COVID-19 we will advise you of any changes and a midwife will discuss your new options with you.

It’s very important that you continue to attend your antenatal appointments. Due to COVID-19, some of your appointments may be delivered in a different way, such as over the phone or with Telehealth. We will still continue to provide you with the best possible care during your pregnancy.

When a woman is admitted for care related birthing she may have two support persons present. Ward visits are limited to two visitors per patient per day, however only one visitor at a time to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

The visitor policy will continue to be applied with compassion and common sense.

Compassionate exceptions to the visitor policy will continue to be determined on a case by case basis. These decisions will be made in consultation with the relevant clinical staff.

If you are unwell or in self-isolation for possible/confirmed COVID-19 and are due to attend a routine maternity appointment, please contact your midwife, general practitioner, your hospital care provider including the Centenary Hospital Antenatal Clinic on 5124 7625 or Birth Suite on 5124 7444 for more information.

You can find out more information on what pregnancy care and birthing options are available, what you should bring to hospital or when to call online.

COVID-19 information for pregnant women

For the latest information, please read the COVID-19 information for pregnant women fact sheet.

Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit

The Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit continues to provide support to women as usual and will continue to see patients referred from the Emergency Department and from General Practitioners. Women who experience a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and early pregnancy problems will continue to be provided with the same support.

We’re here for you at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

Boon Lim, Clinical Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Michelle Thinius, Assistant Director of Midwifery from the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children at Canberra Health Services shares how we're supporting families during the COVID-19 response.

This information is current as of 14 May 2020 and may be subject to change during the COVID-19 response.

Gynaecology Outpatient Clinics

Clinics at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

General Gynaecology Clinics, Colposcopy Clinics and Outpatient Hysteroscopy Clinics continue to be provided but at a reduced capacity. We have reduced the frequency and number of appointments to ensure social distancing. We have set up online gynaecology clinics through Telehealth for non-face to face follow up consultations.

All gynaecology outpatient clinics resumed from 25 May 2020. We will continue to practice social distancing when scheduling appointments and will use Telehealth for follow up consultations where possible.

In line with the COVID-19 recovery processes, elective gynaecology surgery will be fully operational from 15 June 2020. 

Neonatology at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

To provide increased protection to all babies, families and staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Nursery (SCN) as a result of COVID-19, we have temporarily changed nursery visiting arrangements:

  • Visitors are currently being limited to parents/carers only. Both parents/carers can visit each day with only one at a time to ensure social distancing can be maintained.
    Both parents/carers can be present for up to one hour each day to encourage family time.
  • Both parents are encouraged to spend time with their baby/s, to maintain social distancing we ask that parents come in one at a time.

Expressed Breast Milk, breast feeding and skin to skin time are important in the care provided for babies in the nursery. Parents will be supported by our team to participate in these activities while social distancing guidelines remain in place.

We will continue to provide the same care for babies admitted to NICU and SCN. Babies will be discharged home when they are clinically ready. Services providing support and follow-up after discharge will continue to be provided.

While social distancing is required, where possible, the Growth and Development Follow-up Clinic appointments are being done by telephone.

 

This advice is current on 1 May 2020. The advice around visiting related to COVID-19 and social distancing may change, please check with the nurse caring for your baby.

Paediatrics at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

Due to COVID-19, we have changed the way we are delivering paediatric outpatient services and clinics.

We have reduced the number of outpatient consultations in line with current restrictions and, where possible, are conducting consultations via Telehealth. Initial consultations are generally face-to-face and followed up via Telehealth if you and your doctor agree that is suitable in your circumstances.

Essential clinic visits are continuing as normal for issues such as fractures, burns, postsurgical reviews, and subspecialist clinics where necessary.

Paediatric day stay services are continuing.  To support these services, we have developed a paediatric outreach service to reduce the need for hospital visits, particularly for vulnerable children and families. One of our staff members will be in touch with you if this service is suitable for your family.

Paediatric surgery has been restricted to emergencies and urgent cases. These restrictions will be progressively lifted over coming weeks. If your child’s surgery was postponed, you will be contacted to make a new appointment once the restriction on that surgery is lifted.

Visitors are currently being limited to parents/carers only. Both parents/carers can visit each day with only one at a time to ensure social distancing can be maintained. Both parents/carers can be present for up to one hour each day to encourage family time.

We recognise that during this time you may want to keep children at home rather than bringing them to hospital to seek advice on their illness/es. We want to reassure you that hospitals are safe and welcoming, particularly for children in need. If you think your child may need hospital care, please bring them in or contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for advice. For more information and to find the right care for when your child is unwell visit Your health options.

Canberra Maternity Options

When you find out you’re pregnant, call 5124 9977 to arrange a Canberra Maternity Options appointment with a midwife.  Canberra Maternity Options appointments are continuing to occur over the phone and will transition to Telehealth. The midwife will talk to you about your pregnancy and birthing options, your health care needs and personal preferences and find the best maternity care for you.

An initial phone call appointment with a midwife will occur which may be followed by a short face-to-face assessment for women with complex health and social needs and vulnerabilities, for example, women of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, or women with a history of complications in pregnancy.

Further information on pregnancy and birth can be found here.

Early pregnancy information sessions

Due to the current restrictions around mass gatherings, we are  offering our free early pregnancy information sessions online instead of face-to-face.

You can register for an information session on Eventbrite to learn more about what ACT public maternity care and birthing options are available to you.

Antenatal appointments

Due to COVID-19, we are now providing telehealth  appointments by phone or video call  for  antenatal  clinic appointments.

The appointment schedule below is only a guide and may differ depending on your needs. Your midwife will be able to advise how they will support you through your pregnancy.

Timing

Your pregnancy care appointments

Early pregnancy

  • Book an appointment with your GP for your early pregnancy care.
  • You can call 5124 9977 to arrange a phone appointment with a midwife to access ACT public maternity care.

10 – 14 weeks

  • You will have a phone or telehealth appointment with a Canberra Maternity Options midwife. A short face to face appointment may be required depending on your health needs.
  • The Canberra Maternity Options Midwife will help you decide on the maternity care provider that best suits your needs and preferences.

16 – 18 weeks

  • You will have a phone or telehealth appointment with a midwife from your chosen maternity care provider.
  • Within 10 days of your phone or telehealth appointment, you will have a face to face appointment with a midwife.

18 – 20 weeks

  • You will have your morphology scan.

22 weeks

  • You will have a phone or telehealth appointment with a midwife.
  • If you have a higher risk pregnancy you may have a face-to-face appointment at the hospital.

27-28 weeks

  • You will have a short face to face appointment with a midwife within the community.
  • If you have a higher risk pregnancy you may have a face to face appointment with a doctor in the hospital.

32 weeks

  • You will have a phone or telehealth appointment with a midwife.

34 – 36 weeks

  • You will have a short face to face appointment with a midwife within the community.
  • If you have a higher risk pregnancy you may have a face to face appointment with a doctor in the hospital.

38 weeks

  • You will have a phone or telehealth appointment with a midwife.

40 – 41 weeks

  • You will have a face to face appointment with a doctor in hospital.
Childbirth education at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children

Due to the current restrictions around mass gatherings, we are offering our “Pregnancy to Parenting” and “Next Birth after Caesarean” sessions online via WebEx instead of face-to-face. If you are having your baby at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children you can book into a childbirth education session on Eventbrite. Your midwife can also let you know when and how you will be able to book online for these sessions.

Maternal and Child Health

First home visits

We will continue to support new mothers through our first home visit service, however, to keep you, your babies and our staff safe, this service has changed slightly.

Once you have returned home after giving birth, a MACH nurse will contact you by phone within 5 working days to talk about any wellbeing or health issues you may have and arrange a visit from the MACH nurse.

Contact the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line on 5124 1775 if you have not received a call from a MACH Nurse. Please leave a voicemail with your name, best contact number and reason for your call and a health professional will call you back within one business day.

Booked clinic appointments

Bookings are now open for face to face regular developmental health checks for your child. To make a booking call Central Health Intake on 02 5124 9977, from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm and Wednesday, 8am to 3:30pm. Currently, you can only book an appointment up to six weeks in advance. This may be subject to change.

If you have concerns about your child, please phone the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support Line on 5124 1775 from Monday to Friday to speak to a MACH Nurse. 

Drop-in Clinic

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, drop-in clinics have been replaced by appointment bookings. To access these please call the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line on 5124 1775.

Leave a voicemail with your name, best contact number and reason for your call and a health professional will call you back within one business day. Staff can assist with information and advice on parenting, child health, breastfeeding, developmental concerns, nutrition and feeding issues, keeping your child safe, toddler behaviour issues, adjustment to parenthood and maternal emotional health.

Early Days and Sleep Groups

Due to the current restrictions around mass gatherings we are unable to run Early Days and Sleep and Settling group sessions face-to-face.

You’re welcome to attend an online Early Days Group information and advice session. To book into a session visit Eventbrite.

You can also call the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line to speak to a MACH nurse about any feeding or settling concerns.

You can call 5124 1775 and leave a voicemail with your name, best contact number and reason for your call and a health professional will call you back within one business day. An appointment will be made for you to have a telephone or Telehealth consultation with an experienced MACH nurse.

New Parents Groups

New Parent Groups are returning face to face from 20 July 2020. If this changes you will be contacted.

Due to social distancing and room sizes, numbers will be reduced until further notice.

The New Parent Group is a four week program run by our MACH nurses. It gives you the opportunity to meet other first-time parents with babies of a similar age, discuss topics and issues about parenting and caring for yourself and your baby and find out how to access services available to you in the community.

This group is available to parents of infants under four months.

Please book well in advance due to popularity. For bookings call Central Health Intake on 5124 9977 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 3.30pm on Wednesday.

Breastfeeding

We are committed to helping you establish breastfeeding with your baby.

If you are experiencing difficulties or are seeking advice for breastfeeding your baby, please call the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line on 5124 1775 to speak to a MACH nurse.  An appointment can be made for you to have a consultation with an experienced MACH nurse (this may be via telehealth).

Early Childhood Immunisation Clinic

Our Early Childhood Immunisation Clinics will continue to operate. Babies and children need to be vaccinated on time so they can get the best possible protection against preventable diseases.

Please note that due to current restrictions around visitors and support persons the number of adults attending the appointment with the child to be immunised may be limited.

From April 2020 the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination will be available for children aged 6 months to under 5 years. This vaccine is free and available through your usual immunisation provider, including GPs and the Early Childhood Immunisation Clinics.

To make an appointment call Central Health Intake on 5124 9977 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 3.30pm on Wednesday.

You can find out more information about this service on the Babies and Children Immunisation page.

Nutrition

Our Nutrition Service provides free nutrition assessment, counselling and advice for children, young people and pregnant women. This service is available to children and young people under 25 years, women during pregnancy and women up to 2 years after giving birth.

The nutrition team is currently providing phone appointments and accepting referrals for the following:

  • poor growth,
  • food allergy and food intolerance,
  • eating disorders,
  • hyperemesis (severe morning sickness) during pregnancy,
  • developmental eating delays (e.g. delayed texture progression,)
  • childhood obesity with medical concerns, and
  • childhood iron deficiency.

To book a phone appointment, please call Central Health Intake on 5124 9977.

For support during early pregnancy and parenting you are also welcome to phone the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support Line on 5124 1775.

If your referral reason does not fit within these criteria, we encourage you to look at our nutrition factsheets and booklets. You may also like to contact a private dietitian by visiting the Dietitians Association of Australia website or contact the University of Canberra’s Health Hub by phoning 6201 5843. You may also wish to contact your GP for further care at this time.

Fussy Eaters Group

The Fussy Eaters Group is a face-to-face group session where you can discuss with others your experience of having a fussy eater in your family.

Due to the current restrictions around mass gatherings we are unable to run these group sessions face-to-face. We are now offering these groups online. To book a place in an online fussy eaters’ group, please call Central Health Intake on 5124 9977.

Making a Solid Start Group

The Making a Solid Start Group is a face-to-face group session run by a Dietitian and Speech Pathologist where you can learn more about introducing solids to your baby.

Due to current restrictions around mass gatherings we are unable to run these sessions face-to-face. We are now offering these groups online. For more information on the online Making a Solid Start group, please contact the Child Development Service on 6207 8884. Bookings can be made online at https://childdevelopmentservice.simplybook.me/v2.

Community Nutrition Requests

Previously, our dietitians provided presentations and workshops on various nutrition topics.

Due to the current restrictions around mass gatherings we are unable to run this service face-to-face. Depending on the request, we may be able to offer an online group during this time. Please complete a Request for Nutrition Involvement Form and send it to WYC-Nutrition@act.gov.au if you are interested in an online group.

 

School Kids Intervention Program

The School Kids Intervention Program (SKIP) is a multidisciplinary, family-centred service for children aged 4 to 12 years who are overweight or obese. It aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families through regular access to a paediatric specialist, a paediatric dietiitian, an exercise physiologist and a psychologist.

The SKIP team is currently providing phone appointments.

For more information, please contact the SKIP Coordinator on 02 5124 1402 or email SKIP@act.gov.au

For more information on eligibility and making a referral please see the SKIP website here https://health.act.gov.au/services-and-programs/women-youth-and-children/children-and-youth/school-kids-intervention-program

School based programs

School Youth Health Nurse Program

The School Youth Health Nurse Program provides Registered Nurses in ACT Government High Schools.  As ACT Government High Schools resumes on campus learning from 18 May 2020, the School Youth Health Nurse Program will resume normal service provision within schools. The program provides:

  • individual health consultations for High School students
  • support for schools to promote health and wellbeing
  • small groups for students that focus on health and wellbeing

To see the nurse at school either drop in to their office or call 5124 1790.

Referrals are welcome from families, secondary school staff and other health professionals. Please email CHS.SYHN@act.gov.au or phone 51241790

Kindergarten Health Check

Due to the redeployment of Registered Nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic response and the closure of schools, the physical component of the Kindergarten Health Check has been cancelled. 

The information you provided in the Academic Unit of General Practice questionnaire for the Kindergarten Health Check has been collected as normal. The Academic Unit will send results of the questionnaire to the GP to follow-up, if you have given consent to do so. 

Parents are advised to see their GP if they have any concerns.

For questions about the Academic Unit of General Practice questionnaire please contact the Kindergarten Health Check Research Nurse on 5124 4949 or email KindyHealthAUGP@act.gov.au

Healthcare Access at School (HAAS)

Healthcare Access at School (HAAS) provides Registered Nurses to support school staff to safely care for the complex and/or invasive health needs of children attending ACT Government schools from preschool through to college.

This program provides:

  • a care plan that steps out the health tasks required during the school day
  • support for school staff to deliver health care tasks safely through education, training and ongoing support as needed
  • advocacy for the safe inclusion for children with complex health conditions

The HAAS program will resume normal service delivery when school returns from 18 May 2020. 

For more information and to make a referral visit the School Health webpage or call 5124 1627 or email HAAS@act.gov.au

High School Immunisation

The School Health Team provides the National Immunisation Program vaccines to students in Years 7 and 10:

  • Year 7 students receive the vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, two doses six months apart and the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (dTpa) vaccine single dose.
  • Year 10 students receive the Meningococcal ACWY vaccine -single dose.

Round one vaccines for year 7 students have now been completed. Vaccines for Year 10 students will be completed during July, August and September. 

For more information please visit the Canberra Health Services Immunisation webpage or contact the School Health Team on 5124 1585 or email schoolimmunisation@act.gov.au.

 

Children’s Hearing Service

The Children’s Hearing Service appointments can be made up to three weeks ahead. During this time children who have the following are prioritised for appointments:

  1. Children with an existing speech pathology appointment
  2. Children who have been referred by the Child Development Service
  3. Children who have an existing ENT appointment   

If there is clinic availability, then the next priority is:

  1. Children who had a previous appointment that was cancelled because of COVID-19 shut down.

Your referral letter, previous hearing reports (if available) and the child’s Blue Book are required for the appointment.

For more information and to make an appointment please contact the Central Health Intake on 5124 9977.

Children’s Asthma Education Service

Provides children, adolescents (up to 18 years) and their families with free support to manage asthma. Registered Nurses:

  • provide education on asthma and Asthma First Aid, how asthma medications work and when to use them
  • support families to manage wheezing in the first years of life
  • support children to recognise their symptoms and learn to manage their asthma
  • support adolescents to manage their asthma independently.

The Children’s Asthma Education Service is available to families via clinic appointments or Telehealth.

For more information and to make a Telehealth or clinic appointment with the Children’s Asthma Education Service please contact Central Health Intake on 5124 9977.

All children should have a current Asthma Action Plan – available through their GP.

For more information on asthma visit National Asthma Council of Australia.

Allied health services

Our Early Parenting Counselling Service provides support and advice to help you better manage and overcome challenges that you may face in the early stages of family life.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19 our home visits will cease at this time. We are providing phone support services through our Wellbeing Team. You can contact the Wellbeing Team by phoning the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line on 5124 1775. The Wellbeing Team provides support to callers who are have emotional, parenting and wellbeing concerns. The Wellbeing Team will also provide referrals to other resources, validation and normalising of distress at this challenging time. The Wellbeing Team is offering phone counselling support for pregnant women and parents of young children.

If you or your partner are pregnant, or if you have children under 5 years, you can call the Early Pregnancy and Parenting Support line on 5124 1775. Please leave a voicemail with your name, best contact number and reason for your call and a health professional will call you back within one business day.

Eye and vision screening

Previously, we offered eye and vision screening services for children from birth to 6 years. Our services include vision assessment, eye movement assessment and binocular vision tests.

Due to the COVID-19 response and to slow the spread of COVID-19 these services are currently not available.

If you have a concern about your child’s eyes and vision, please contact your GP or local Optometrist.

Physiotherapy

Our physiotherapy services provide assessment, information, exercise advice, early intervention and prevention for women and babies.

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep families, babies and staff safe, we have changed the way our service operates. We currently offer physiotherapy support for essential assessments and treatments. This includes:

  • ultrasound treatment for mastitis treatment for blocked ducts
  • infant assessment (head shape, neck issues and positional talipes)
  • postnatal women suffering acute pain with mobilisation and significant pelvic floor continence issues

These services may be provided over the phone or in a clinic visit at one of the three clinics across Canberra:

  • Belconnen Community Health Centre (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
  • Tuggeranong Community Health Centre (every second Tuesday and Wednesdays)
  • Gungahlin Community Health Centre (Mondays and second Tuesdays)

To book an appointment, please call the Central Health Intake line on 5124 9977, between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

If you are experiencing pain including mastitis and can’t wait for an appointment on these days, we recommend you contact your GP or a private physiotherapy practice.

Community Paediatric and Child Health Service

If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact the Child Health Targeted Support Service Intake and Support line during business hours, Monday – Friday on 5124 2712.

Your treating General Practitioner or a medical specialist can still make a referral to our service, which will be considered and prioritised based on age and developmental needs. Referrals can be sent through to Central Health Intake at CHIintake@act.gov.au or faxed to 02 5124 1082.

Child at Risk Health Unit

The Child at Risk Health Unit (CARHU) will continue to provide medical examinations, health screens, and consultation for all children and their families and/or carers in the ACT with concerns of child abuse and neglect and for children entering out of home care.

You can contact us through the Child Health Targeted Support Service Intake and Support line during business hours, Monday to Friday on 5124 2712.

 

For after-hours assistance, please contact the Child at Risk Medical Consultant through the Canberra Hospital switchboard on 5124 0000.

Women’s Health Service

In response to COVID-19, the Women’s Health Service is offering counselling and nursing care using telehealth, phone counselling and limited face to face counselling to women who have no symptoms of cold or flu.

To talk with a counsellor you can call 5124 1787 from 1pm to 3pm, Monday to Friday.

To make a referral for an appointment with a nurse you can call 5124 1787 from 9am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday

You may seek support if you have experienced domestic and family violence, abuse and or neglect in childhood and/or adulthood. You may also wish to talk to a counsellor about managing the effects of social isolation, discuss any anxieties, feelings or distress you might be experiencing that is related to your previous experiences of trauma, and to enhance your coping capacity during this period of time.

Please note, this is not a crisis phone line and if you require urgent assistance please call 000, or the Domestic Violence Crisis Support line on 6280 0900.

Page last updated on: 2 Jul 2020