Peace Arch Hospital. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Peace Arch Hospital. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Peace Arch Hospital maternity ward to close for 3 months ‘or longer’: source

Shortage of pediatric coverage blamed for diversion of expectant mothers

Peace Arch Hospital’s maternity ward is set to close for three months, according to multiple sources – including one with Fraser Health – who reached out to Peace Arch News Friday.

The reason, according to the Fraser Health executive, is due to a “failure to secure pediatric coverage” and could last longer than three months.

In a release late in the day Friday (Jan. 14), Fraser Health confirmed confirmed the closure, but called it an “extended diversion.” The health authority adds it “does not impact other health care services at Peace Arch Hospital.”

The release did not say how long the maternity ward would be closed.

It says it’s “in response to a gap in pediatrician availability due to an unexpected leave at Peace Arch Hospital.”

“The diversion will remain in place until we successfully recruit a full complement of pediatricians to support Maternity patients at Peace Arch Hospital,” reads the release.

Beginning Jan. 28, Fraser Health says people who had plans to deliver at Peace Arch Hospital to instead go to Langley Memorial Hospital for their deliveries.

“While some people will be disappointed by this temporary change as they would like to have their baby born at Peace Arch Hospital for a variety of reasons, Fraser Health is ensuring that all care providers, such as midwives and doulas, who are part of a patient’s care team continue to be part of their delivery team at Langley Memorial Hospital.”

Fraser Health says impacted patients will be notified directly by their physicians or midwives to discuss their birth plan and “ensure their needs are met.”

It’s not the first time the PAH maternity ward has shut its doors and been forced to divert expectant mothers to other nearby hospitals. Twice last summer, the hospital announced that the maternity department would close for shorter periods of time, with expectant mothers diverted to Langley Memorial Hospital.

In both those cases, the reason for closure was a result of “a temporary gap in pediatrician coverage.”

Dr. Laura Lewington, co-local department head for the pediatrics department at PAH, said “for several years now, the local pediatrician group at Peace Arch Hospital has been working closely with Fraser Health to recruit pediatricians to our hospital.”

But Fraser Health says recruiting pediatricians to work in smaller hospitals, “particularly those such as Peace Arch Hospital that do not have pediatric units, can be a challenge since some pediatricians prefer to work in larger acute settings.”

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