Delivering short-term solutions

Ty Dunham
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Expecting mothers, supporters protest moving patients out of area

Jamie Power gives a speech to supporters. Ty Dunham photo.

Expecting mothers and supporters in Labrador West who may be forced to deliver away from their homes, friends and families rallied together last Monday night to voice their concerns.

Without the services of a full-time obstetrician-gynaecologist (ObGyn), physicians at the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital have decided to refer patients outside the region, requiring expecting mothers to leave their hometown.

The crowd was silent as Jamie Power, 37 weeks pregnant, pleaded for a solution.

“I am from here, my husband moved his family here, my own child was born here, and now you're going to send me out to nowhere,” she said. “This is devastating and to all the voices and powers that be, we are desperate — please.”

 Ms. Power later said she wasn’t sure if her due date of Dec. 7 would force her to leave, adding extra stress to her pregnancy.

“My doctor told me I should be fine, but that’s not something I want to rest my child’s life on.”

A concern for many pregnant women is their spouses will not be able to get time off work. Ms. Power said that will also result in her husbanding having to take six weeks off and the couple having to take their four-year-old.

It won’t only affect families’ time together, but also finances, she said.

“Financially it sucks because I'll have to take my maternity leave early, but it's not feasible that he comes with me,” she said. “What husband can take six weeks off work without an income coming in?”

Ms. Power said she doesn’t know where to go if she can’t have her child in Labrador West.

“I went to Ottawa for university, but that's not home at all,” she said. “I don't know anywhere. It's very scary. I suspect I'll spend six weeks in a hotel with my daughter, hoping my parents will be there in time for the birth of our child. So it’s very, very scary.”

A temporary solution established by Labrador Grenfell Health allows patients to remain in the region during the month of November.

Pam Morrissey, organizer of the rally, said that’s not good enough.

“Right now as we speak there is no plan,” Ms. Morrissey said. “Until the end of this month there is no one local to provide doctors the support. So I don't know what happens to the women who go into delivery right now. If they’re going to be shipped outside or if the doctors will consider them an emergency and go ahead and deliver.”

MHA Nick McGrath said the short-term solution was made to provide comfort for the expected mothers who fall into that time frame, but a better solution is required.

“I have a son, a daughter and a granddaughter born here in Labrador West, and I see no reason why that should change,” McGrath said. “There is a permanent solution needed, and the solution is to have a full-time obstetrician here. Of course it's easy to say that we need one, but one is not sufficient because you cannot have them working 24/7.”

Ashley Tulk, an expecting mother who will be able to give birth to her child in Labrador West in November, supported her friends at the rally, saying the issue is ridiculous.

“Both of my kids were born here, and both without an ObGyn and they're both healthy,” she said. “To make a temporary assessment when we already have two-year funding in place, there's no need of it. Temporary is not good enough.”


Organizations: Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital, Labrador Grenfell Health

Geographic location: Labrador West, Ottawa

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