Women planning on birthing at Chilliwack General Hospital this summer may have further to travel than originally thought: CGH is planning on diverting its patients to Abbotsford for the coming months. Photo by Trevor Gawdin

Chilliwack’s maternity closure a ‘health hazard,’ says letter sent to BC Nurses Union

Letter states CGH is creating an unsafe medical and professional environment

The Hope Standard has learned a letter has been sent to the BC Nurses Union (BCNU) calling the impeding “maternity unit closure … a ‘Health Hazard’ as defined in the Public Health Act.”

Because of their standing in the medical community, the letter’s sender has requested the writer not be identified, however, they are a practitioner of maternal care within the Fraser Valley.

The biggest issue, says the letter, is the planned maternity deferral from Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) to Abbotsford Regional Hospital—or other locations beyond—not only creates a possible safety risk for the women and babies who are sent traveling, but it also requires hospital staff to be put at professional risk.

After the closure was announced last week, Fraser Health maternity stakeholders and administrators met on Thursday (June 6) to discuss implementation.

RELATED: Chilliwack General Hospital diverting moms-to-be to Abbotsford starting June 24

In an email sent by local midwife, Amelia Doran, after that meeting, midwives in the eastern Fraser Valley were told to “think of the maternity unit as having a lock on the door when it comes to labour and birth … and that all antenatal assessments are to be done at (Abbotsford Regional Hospital)” by emergency doctors and a maternity nurse.

But, as the letter to the BCNU notes, requiring “untrained and unskilled medical staff to manage and provide care (that) is outside of their scope of practice and to not allow any planned assessments or maternity-related triaging creates a significant health hazard or all pregnant women located in (the Fraser Valley).”

And while Fraser Health has commented they only expect Abbotsford to have to deal with about two extra deliveries a day, the lack of any maternal resources at the Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) means the amount of patients will likely be much higher than two a day.

“Last week, Chilliwack’s maternity ward was overflowing,” said Natasha Oglesby, founder of Midwifery Tree in Chilliwack, a midwifery clinic serving patients from Chilliwack to Boston Bar, and all points in between. “They were on diversion for a full two days because they were overflowing.”

However, the letter states current assessment and triaging numbers at CGH maternity is averaging approximately 13 assessments and triages per day, and that creating circumstances where pregnant women are expected to travel extended distances poses an unacceptable health threat.

The solution, says the letter, is to utilize the Valley’s midwives: “Midwives are extensively trained and are regulated as outline above. We propose that having midwives on call, at deliveries in CGH as required, able to assess women and triage to to other sites as appropriate would be the safest and most practical model in the situation that we are faced with in CGH, and in the process, the nurses of CGH and Abbotsford would be protected from working outside their scope of practice.”

However, as of yet, Chilliwack hasn’t considered the use of locums or midwives to fill the need at CGH. “We can help take the pressure off of Abbotsford by allowing us to triage the women here (in Chilliwack),” Oglesby said. “We (just) want to help (however we can).”

Fraser Health has yet to set a definite timeline for the closure, but Doran’s post-meeting email says there’s no “end-date yet, but definitely for the month of July and possibly longer.”

“We have nothing firm to announce at this time,” commented Dixon Tam, a Fraser Health senior consultant in public affairs. “But we are actively working with our partners on some solutions to best support maternity patients in Chilliwack, (and) will share (those) solutions with the community as soon as they are finalized.”

The Hope Standard is continuing to follow this story and will update it as more information becomes available.


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Surrey council unanimously votes down move to allow more liquor stores

Amid a cannabis shop ban in the city, Surrey councillors had questioned proposed zoning changes

Ban on sleeping overnight in RVs, motorhomes on Surrey streets referred back to staff

Proposal came amid complaints about homeless people living in recreational vehicles

Surrey developer says second Central City office tower doesn’t need to be taller

Application for second 25-storey tower at mall sent back to staff by Surrey council for being ‘way too low’

Dog rescued from South Surrey house fire

Firefighters dispatched to 19400-block of 0 Avenue

Rec centre staff honoured for their help to revive teen who collapsed in weight room

BC Emergency Health Services presented Vital Link awards to four City of Surrey employees on Sunday

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read