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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Vancouver double homicide leads to arrest in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday

VPD and RCMP tracked dumped vehicle connected to killings to Chilliwack

Ride for cancer in Langley will take place Sunday, despite COVID-19

Annual fundraiser will be ‘really different,’ but classic cars are expected, organizer promises

Multiple accidents slowing westbound Highway 1 traffic

3 accidents in Langley, Abbotsford within 30 minutes

Ranger Station Art Gallery plans weekend reopening

Ava Christl display will be featured

Harrison Festival Society unveils further summer lineup

Children’s concert, drum making on deck for July 15 and 18

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Conservation officers relocate Spirit Bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to give three clubhouses back to Hells Angels chapters

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Surrey officer-impersonation scam continues ‘almost daily’

Police reiterate warning that demands for Bitcoin in exchange for waived charges are fraudulent

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Thief steals bucket truck in Abbotsford while worker is 20 feet in air

Employee is able to jump to safety after suspect drives into pole

Most Read