Expectant mothers won’t be able to give birth at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake.
Interior Health announced Wednesday that inpatient obstetrical services at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake will be temporarily suspended due to an unexpected and critical shortage of maternity nurses.
“We’re hoping that it would last no more than three months,” said David Matear, executive director of Interior Health West for Hospitals and Communities.
“We have been recognizing for some time that there have been challenges in recruitment, and we have already instituted a development program for old nurses to be qualified in a specialty area.”
The program for maternity nurses takes 12 months to complete and Matear said they are looking forward to two of those nurses qualifying and joining them in June with five others qualifying at the end of the year.
“And thereafter we have two spaces on that specialty training course annually to make sure that we’re compensating for any turnover that we might experience in staff,” Matear said.
“We’re hoping then that the situation that we’re facing right now is short-term and certainly no longer than a three month period.”
As well as the specialty training course, Matear said Interior Health has also been working very closely with their maternal, child, and youth network to ensure they are coordinating efforts for staffing across Interior Health facilities.
“We’re working with Royal Inland and also with 100 Mile and looking at this as a problematic challenge of IH West, and making the best use of resources,” Matear said.
“We’ve seen that some of the specialty trained nursing staff from Royal Inland have come to Williams Lake to fulfill some of the shifts here over the last couple of months.”
Matear estimates there are there are 10 nursing vacancies including part-time and fully available in maternity.
“The ideal level of nurses per shift in a specialty area is two so that’s what we’re striving to whether that’s active from internal resources or external resources.”
Expectant Mothers Express Frustrations
First-time expectant mom, Leane of 150 Mile said she learned of the news today from her physician.
“Where are people supposed to go?,” she asked.
“It’s not our doctors’ fault because our doctors are pissed off about it too. So what is Interior Health doing? They’re going to cover hotel, fuel, and food, but what about lost wages? Mount Polley, Gibraltar, all those guys that are scheduled to work and they could be off work for eight days because their wife is going to have a baby.”
Matear told MyCaribooNow Interior Health is committed to supporting families with costs for transportation, temporary lodging, and meals in alternate communities.
“At this time it’s just limited to those costs so that’s the situation right now. However, we are looking at individual cases on a case by case basis.”
(Editor’s Note: Listen to David Matear, executive director, Interior Health West Hospitals and Communities in the audio file below)
Original Story: Interior Health has confirmed that inpatient obstetrical services at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake will be temporarily suspended due to an unexpected and critical shortage of maternity nurses.
“This decision was made for the safety of expectant mothers and their babies while Interior Health secures staffing for this service,” Interior Health said in a news release.
“Interior Health and physicians in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House are working together to notify all expectant mothers individually of this change in care and to support them in making arrangements for a stay in another community, such as Kamloops or Prince George, where they can safely deliver their babies.”
Seven nurses are currently being trained in full-scope maternity care to support Cariboo Memorial Hosptial.
“Two nurses will complete their education in June and the other five in December of 2019,” Interior Health Stated.
“As well, Interior Health is recruiting for these specialized nurses nationally and internationally.”
Maternity nurses at CMH provide labour, delivery, post-delivery care, and nursery coverage.