A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

Northern Health denies lawsuit claim that racism played a part in baby’s death

Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft allege negligence and ‘deliberate racial indifference’

Health officials in northern British Columbia deny allegations they mismanaged the treatment of a pregnant Indigenous woman or used racial stereotypes that affected her care and led to the stillbirth of her daughter.

Northern Health, Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and Kitimat General Hospital dispute allegations in a civil lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last month by Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft, alleging negligence and “deliberate racial indifference.”

In its response, the health authority says Morrison was past her due date and in the early stages of labour when she arrived at Kitimat’s hospital, which the health authority says is not equipped to handle complicated deliveries.

The statement says Luft “began yelling,” alleged Morrison was being refused service and then left the hospital with her when a doctor said an assessment was needed to see if the delivery could be done in Terrace.

The couple arrived at the Terrace hospital later that night but doctors could not find a heartbeat, the infant girl was stillborn and the statement of defence says nothing medical staff at either hospital “did or failed to do caused or contributed to the fetal demise.”

None of the allegations or statements have been proven in court and statements from five doctors named in the lawsuit have not yet been filed.

Morrison’s suit alleges her care at both hospitals was affected by racial stereotypes included in her medical records that noted she was in an abusive relationship, her parents were alcoholics and she was depressed.

Those details were part of a standard prenatal record completed by maternity patients, says the statement of defence.

The information was not collected at either hospital, it says, and all history gathered at Mills Memorial and Kitimat General was in line with professional requirements for care.

“Further, the health authority defendants say that at all material times, they and their employees acted appropriately, in accordance with standard practice and without racial stereotyping in their interactions and treatment of the plaintiffs.”

Morrison and Luft are suing for general and special damages, alleging the health authority, its two hospitals, one nurse and five doctors failed in numerous ways, including to adequately diagnose and treat the mother, assess the risks to the baby and to avoid using racial stereotypes in making recommendations for care.

Northern Health and the two hospitals are seeking a dismissal of all the claims and costs of the legal action.

A provincial government review of the case is continuing after it was ordered at the end of January when the allegations were made.

A statement issued last month by the Northern Health board said it endorses the review of racism allegations regarding health care at its hospitals.

The review will seek guidance from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s former representative for children and youth, who wrote a report about anti-Indigenous racism in the province’s health-care system.

READ MORE: Kitimat couple sue hospital, health authority after stillborn delivery

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

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

Just Posted

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins for driver involved in car crash that killed retired Abbotsford police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

RCMP
Vehicle in alleged hit and run ploughs into road sign in downtown Chilliwack

Police are looking for footage of a gold-coloured two-door Chevy car

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

One section of a bank of community mailboxes in Ryder Lake was stolen. (Facebook photo)
Brazen thief goes next level with mail theft in Ryder Lake

Chilliwack RCMP confirm a section of a community mailbox was taken off its base and removed

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Most Read