Women living in the Williams Lake area are being advised they will have to travel to deliver because of a maternity nurse shortage at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. Angie Mindus photo

‘Critical’ nursing shortage at B.C. hospital has pregnant women travelling hours to give birth

Interior Health said the closure at Cariboo Memorial Hospital is temporary

Interior Health has confirmed maternity services are being temporarily suspended at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake due to staff shortages.

“The safety issue has been paramount in our planning,” said David Matear, executive director, Interior Health West Hospitals and Communities of the reason for the decision. “We are doing everything that we can to restore the services as quickly as possible.”

In the meantime, expectant mothers across the Cariboo Chilcotin region are being forced to travel to Kamloops to have their babies in hospital.

Interior Health is meeting with Northern Health to discuss sending some women to Prince George for deliveries because that may be their preference, Matear said.

Andrea Pinette of Williams Lake is due on March 12 and was told by her doctor to get to Kamloops by the time she is 39 weeks pregnant which is on Monday, March 4.

“I am waiting for a call back today,” Pinette told Black Press Wednesday. “I know they don’t know a whole lot, but they are putting us into a hotel near the hospital.”

She has three other children and is planning to take her two-year old with her because she has no idea how long she will be away from home.

WATCH: Premature baby program to expand across B.C.

“I am kind of playing it by ear, and I am lucky I have a ton of family in town,” she added. “My doctor’s office was really good about it. It just so happens because I am approaching 39 weeks that they want me to go, and if anything happens before Kamloops I would go to the emergency or operating room here.”

Learning about the maternity nurse shortage was “a bit of shock,” Pinette said.

“I know the doctors don’t know a lot yet and everyone is kind of on standby from what I understood.”

She also said she didn’t want to alarm other expectant moms, but wanted to give them a head’s up.

It is a three-hour drive from Kamloops to Williams Lake and Matear said arrangements are being made to cover the costs of travel, lodging and meals.

READ MORE: Costs up to $15M for Cariboo Memorial Hospital upgrade before shovels hit the ground

READ MORE: BC moms frustrated about lack of prenatal care

Matear said there have been some recruitment challenges in Williams Lake over a period of time, and IH has been recruiting both nationally and internationally.

“We have seven nurses in a training program for specialty nurses in maternity care right now. Two of them will graduate and join Cariboo Memorial Hospital in June and the other five at the end of the year. We will have two places in the program every year thereafter,” Matear said.

“Once we get to that point, we should have resolved the recruitment challenges. There will be turnover, we recognize that, and that’s why we will have two nurses on an annual basis going through the 12-month training program.”

Matear said unexpected and recent absences in Williams Lake have created a challenge in providing ongoing 24/7 care for the maternity unit.

“We have been working with our maternity, newborn, child and youth network who has helped co-ordinate staffing across IH. Royal Inland Hospital has provided us staff periodically, but this short notice absence has created an issue where we have had to take the unfortunate decision to divert pregnant moms at this point to Kamloops.”

Matear said expectant moms will be referred between 36 and 38 weeks, according to their doctors’s directions, and then referred to GPs in Kamloops or directly to the hospital in Kamloops, depending on their risk.

“Those protocols have been worked out between Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital. We have in the interim created a staffing model which provides us with cover so we can safely do urgent deliveries — but the challenge is the ongoing care for an inpatient as we are unable to staff the maternity unit 24/7.”

Cariboo Memorial Hospital services the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and on an annual basis more than 300 babies are born at the hospital according to Perinatal Service BC statistics.

Several expectant mothers took to social media Tuesday evening to share their concerns after they were informed they cannot give birth at their hometown hospital.

In October 2018, South Cariboo moms living in the 100 Mile House area aired similar concerns and frustrations about the lack of prenatal care in their community.

There have not been deliveries at the hospital since 2017.

A delegation from Interior Health is scheduled to attend the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District committee of the whole meeting taking place Thursday, Feb. 28 to provide updates pertaining to the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House health services administrative area.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital is slated for a complete redevelopment, with the business plan expected to be completed in the near future at an initial estimated cost of $130 million.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Bradner hosts 100th annual May Day celebration

Parade and country fair take place in Abbotsford on Monday, May 20

United voice calls for more senior services in Aldergrove

‘The people here deserve more’ says founder of the local Seniors Resource Fair

Aldergrove’s water park opens to public at discounted rates

Though the pool remains closed, the Township has decided to charge a toonie for admission

Fraser Valley pup trained in Aldergrove co-stars in A Dog’s Journey

Film premiers this weekend, starting Friday in Canadian theatres

Homeless woman unsuccessful in lawsuit against government

A Langley homeless woman tried to sue Victoria and Ottawa

Jeep totalled, four young people in hospital, after single-vehicle crash in Surrey

Mounties have not ruled out any possible factors in what led to the overnight crash

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Cloverdale Rodeo competition promises to be a ‘nail-biter’ this weekend

New challengers giving returning champions a run for their money

Most Read