Lack of midwife privileges at CRH concerns expectant mom
An expectant mother is expressing her frustration that midwives have not as of yet been granted privileges at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge.
“I was surprised in 2018 in Lethbridge women don’t have all of the options they could have,” says Elaine Van Rootselaar, who is expecting her first child in the next week.
“And upon further conversations with midwives and other women in the area I found out people were having to drive out to Cardston where midwives had privileges just so they could access this service. From my research, it looks like Lethbridge hospital is one of the only ones that hasn’t granted privileges. So Lethbridge is pretty far behind on this, and I would like to see that change.”
And it’s not just the fact there are no midwifery services available in Lethbridge which has her frustrated, says Van Rootselaar, but also the fact that when she asks Alberta Health Services why this is the case, they inevitably give her an incomplete or insufficient answer.
“It’s a little frustrating, right? Living near Lethbridge, I am about 10 or 15 minutes away from the hospital,” she explains. “I am looking at having to drive all the way out to Cardston to give birth they way I want, and that’s an hour’s drive to deliver there with the midwives. It seems weird to me I have to do that in this day and age, and then Alberta Health Services in Lethbridge isn’t providing any answers why. If they had a legitimate reason why midwives didn’t have privileges, I would be able to understand or give some feedback. But I haven’t had an actual response from them which gives me an answer.”
The Herald asked AHS why these services aren’t available in the city when they are in other smaller centres. AHS South Zone spokesperson Sherri Gallant did acknowledge these services are available in other area communities.
“AHS recognizes there is significant interest in having local midwifery services available in Lethbridge and its surrounding areas,” she said in an emailed response. “Currently within the AHS South Zone, there are seven midwives providing services in Medicine Hat, Brooks and Cardston. Midwives are primary health-care providers and are able to offer antepartum, intrapartum (delivery) and postpartum care to Alberta families.”
Gallant said plans are in the works to have midwives given hospital privileges in 2019-20. She added the delay in offering these services was due to construction on the hospital’s new wing.
“Planning is now underway to integrate midwifery services within Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH), working alongside other obstetrical teams within the facility, and we anticipate midwifery services will be incorporated within CRH's obstetrics program during the 2019/20 fiscal year,” she explained.
“This implementation was delayed somewhat due to the hospital’s new wing and redevelopment project. Physicians and staff in labour and delivery experienced a number of changes as a result of the project, and it was decided to implement midwifery a little later to avoid too much change at one time. Planning will aim for the seamless transition and integration of midwifery services at the CRH to ensure the delivery of high quality obstetrical care.” “Midwifery is a priority for CRH,” Gallant added. Van Rootselaar, who has a background in media and communications, has read interviews as far back as 2012 where AHS has made similar promises about providing these services. Six years later, the situation hasn’t changed with still no local hospital privileges for midwives, she says.
Van Rootselaar hopes, even if it is too late for her own delivery, that AHS will actually do what it says it is going to do this time.
“This is a service which is paid for by the government in other places, and these are qualified primary caregivers,” states Van Rootselaar. “I should have that choice and that option.”
Elaine Van Rootselaar, who is expecting her first child in the coming days, has been forced to seek midwifery services out of town as midwives have not yet been granted privileges in Lethbridge at Chinook Regional Hospital.