13 September 2022

Queanbeyan's MUM nominated for midwifery award

| Sally Hopman
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Queanbeyan Hospital’s Midwifery Unit Manager (MUM) Jenny Flaherty has been nominated by her colleagues for a top award. Photo: Southern NSW Local Health District.

When it comes to midwifery, few can reproduce Jenny Flaherty’s skills – helping to give birth to the children of women she has helped give birth to.

The Midwifery Unit Manager (MUM) at Queanbeyan District Hospital, Jenny has been a midwife for almost 40 years, mostly at Queanbeyan, but she also spent many years at Cooma Hospital. When asked if she had helped the second generation of her clients give birth, she responded, “OMG, I really have. It’s not something you think about, but I have,” she laughed. “That’s amazing, isn’t it?”

Her experience, calmness, patience and skills have just been acknowledged by the Southern NSW Local Health District naming her as a finalist for the 10th Annual NSW Health Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards.

“I heard that I was nominated by two colleagues … it seems they were in cahoots,” Jenny said. “That was really humbling for me to hear that.

“I don’t really feel I deserve it, personally. I’m just part of the team – it’s a great team at Queanbeyan. I love how we all work together for the one thing, the doctors and the nurses too. We all support each other.”

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Coming out of the COVID crisis and with the current shortage of skilled healthcare workers, Jenny said, teams such as hers were being put to the test. In the toughest of times, she said, ”all you can do is your best”.

“It’s just a matter of working together, checking your colleagues are OK, making sure patients get the best care available – that’s what it’s all about.

“When we’re all so busy like this, we just work hard to support each other. Make sure everyone’s OK – that’s colleagues as well as patients.”

Jenny said she always wanted to be a midwife. “I can’t tell you why, it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

“It is such a privilege to be there when a baby is born, every birth is special. It really is the best job in the world.”

After training, Jenny, originally from Newcastle, moved to Cooma in 1990 and spent many years there as a midwife.

”Then in 2013 I came to Queanbeyan to do relief work – and never left.”

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So what makes a good midwife? “Patience is really important,” Jenny said. “Listening to people, being observant and compassionate, also being flexible because no two women or babies are the same. You’ve got to be able to gauge what outcome they want – not what you think they want.

“You have to look at their expectations.”

Jenny said working in a hospital such as Queanbeyan allowed nursing staff to provide a more personal service.

“It is reassuring for women to know who is looking after them, that’s what’s so good about a place like this – being able to offer continuity of care.”

Although now as Midwifery Unit Manager Jenny spends a lot of her time behind a desk rather than in the delivery room, she is still called on to help bring new life into the world.

“I’m always there if they need me,” she said. “When we have students coming in, I like to help out if they call on me. It’s something you never get tired of.”

Being a midwife, Jenny said, was an “amazing, rewarding career”.

“These days so many things are changing around us, but some things will never change.”

NSW Health secretary Susan Pearce congratulated Jenny and the other finalists.

“These awards showcase the exceptional work our nurses and midwives are doing in our hospitals each and every day,” she said. “I want to acknowledge the finalists for their outstanding work and thank all our staff members who continue to deliver high-quality care during these challenging times.

“Jenny has worked as a midwife with Southern NSW Local Health District for 33 years and her commitment to improving practice at Queanbeyan and other maternity services across the district has earned her the respect of both colleagues and the women and families in her care.”

Winners of the 2022 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards will be announced on November 24. More information about the awards is available here.

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