Fort Nelson, B.C. Cannot Support Expecting Mothers

by John McKiggan

Insufficient Staffing Closes Maternity Services

A November 28, 2017 memo from Airport Way Medical Clinic announced the permanent discontinuation of Maternity Services in Fort Nelson, British Columbia. The memo stated the reason being is that there is simply not enough staffing support to ensure safe obstetric care. Expecting mothers of Fort Nelson are now unable to deliver their babies in their own community. The pregnant women receiving prenatal care have even been asked to sign the memo to acknowledge that they understand the town’s predicament, and that they should deliver elsewhere.

Rural Facilities Eliminating Care

While this is disheartening in itself, the bigger issue lies in the fact that there are no nearby facilities in this area for expecting mothers to go to deliver, due to so many rural facilities’ obstetric care also being eliminated. Several women have been forced to drive hundreds of kilometers, and spend thousands of extra dollars, just to have their babies.  The closest hospital to Fort Nelson is in Fort St. John, which is a whopping 380 kilometers and a 4-plus hour drive away.  The memo also encouraged women to leave up to a month before their due date because “the safety of both the mother and the baby must come first.”

This means that expectant families will have to hope they have other family in the area that they can stay with, spend unnecessary amounts of money on a nearby hotel to stay in leading up to the due date, or risk waiting until the mother is in labor to start traveling.  Many families cannot afford to both pay rent back home and splurge for a several weeks stay in a hotel.  Add traveling costs like gas and then the cost of food each day to the total, and expenses can add up quickly.  Waiting until the mother is in labor to start traveling is not an viable option either.  Waiting is dangerous in many ways, for both the mother and the baby, especially as the wait gets longer and longer.

Dangers Of Delayed Labor

There are numerous birth injuries that could be caused by waiting to deliver a baby.  The families’ choices are also extremely limited, and available care might not be as high of quality as they would like.  When bringing a baby into the world, expectant families want to have the best care possible to avoid preventable birth injuries.

At BILA, we are the largest alliance of lawyers that is dedicated to birth trauma cases in Canada.  Our sole focus is on obtaining compensation for families with children disabled due to preventable birth injuries.  Some common areas that we have covered include birth injuries relating to brain injury, spinal column injuries arising from shoulder dystocia, and birth injuries arising from treatable genetic conditions.  We have also covered birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, fetal and neonatal strokes, newborn infections, seizures, delayed diagnosis of heart defects, and much more.


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