From meeting precious newborn babies, to standing alongside women battling cancer—working in women's health is full of countless rewards and challenges.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we spoke with our great friend, Roxanne Bailey from Hunter Women's Health Centre, to get some insight into what it's like working in women's health care in Australia.
How long have you been involved in a service that focuses on women's health?
I have been working with Hunter Women's Health Centre since it's inception in 2004. Prior to that I worked in cardiac (open heart) and burns.
What do you love about being involved in women's health?
My motto in life is to make a difference wherever I am.
I love women's health, I love snuggling the newborn babies, I love holding the hands of patients as they go though very invasive procedures in our rooms, and I love helping to re-dress our elderly patients and tie their shoes.
Why do you think it's important to have services that just focus on women?
Being a woman holds many challenges and unexpected bonuses.
Who would give up the chance to feel their babies move in utero or that bond that forms with their newborn baby?
But there are all the traumatic things that women face as well.
More and more, we are seeing patients that have experienced domestic violence, childhood sexual assault, etc. We must have a caring, compassionate, calming, safe place for these women to come.
We provide that here at Hunter Women's Health Centre.
If you could change one thing about the way we manage women's health in Australia, what would it be?
If I could change only one thing in Australia about managing women's health care, it would be that gynaecology services were classed as essential healthcare so that patients could come here without a referral from a GP and still be reimbursed by Medicare.
We have dozens of women a week that choose just to pay out of pocket to come to HWHC because of the type of care they receive here.
That is not to downgrade our GP's at all. They are the frontline of our healthcare system—they are just for a great part, overworked and underpaid.
Why do you think Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important to me personally because my grandmother fought breast cancer and I have three close friends that I have travelled that road with.
Undeniably, breast cancer statistics could be better if [they] were detected early. It is important for us to get that information out to women in easily understood forms.
Once again, it is making a difference—that makes this important to me.
Are there any other health issues for women that you think deserve more focus?
My biggest passion in women's healthcare is probably for the teen-to-30 year old group and cervical cancer.
I am absolutely positive that girls in high school are not taught that sexual contact before 18 and multiple sexual partners dramatically increase your risk of cervical cancer—despite the Gardasil injections.
I would love the opportunity to speak to every high school in the Hunter Valley, both young mean and women, and give them this information in a fun, creative, but serious way.
Roxanne has also been busying crocheting some beautiful face mask ear savers to prevent the pain associated with wearing face masks for long periods of time.
They're super soft and comfy—but better still, $5 from every sale will be donated to Hunter Women's Health Centre! Grab yours today by clicking here.