Health officials are asking pregnant women who were planning to deliver at Chilliwack General Hospital later this month to make other arrangements due to a shortage of obstetricians.
“Unfortunately, there was a personal emergency with one of our physicians and something that we did not foresee,” said Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma.
Effective June 24, Fraser Health is requesting that pregnant women go to Abbotsford Regional Hospital instead of Chilliwack General – unless they're in "urgent need," in which case mothers-to-be are advised to head to their nearest emergency room.
Libby Gregg and Natasha Oglesby are registered midwives in Chilliwack with a full client list this summer.
“This will effect so many moms,” Oglesby told CTV News Vancouver. “We need the powers that be to step up.”
The pair are fully booked this summer, and one of their clients has a c-section booked for June 26. That’s two days after the temporary shutdown is set to begin.
Gregg told CTV News that one mother came in just before our cameras arrived.
“She felt really left and abandoned and uncertain about how things would look for her and her birth,” said Gregg. “She was in tears.”
Women who believe they're having complications with their pregnancy should call 911, the health authority said.
Even expectant mothers who had existing plans in place to deliver at the hospital are being told to head to Abbotsford Reginal instead.
Fraser Health said families who have any questions should contact their own physician or midwife.
“We’re not just talking about deliveries,” said Oglesby. “We’re talking ruptured membranes, preterm labours, decreased fetal movements, postdates – there are so many assessments that need to be done for pregnant women.”
On top of that she said if women are driving further they may not know how far along in labour they are.
“You’ve got the potential risk of somebody delivering on the side of the road," she said.
The diversion is necessary because of a lack of doctors, though Fraser Health said no other services at the hospital are being affected.
Gregg told CTV News that Abbotsford Regional Hospital is already struggling to keep up with the number of births even with Chilliwack General at capacity.
She said that she’s had three women go into labour in the last week and a half who had planned to give birth in Abbotsford.
“However when they came in to labour and I called Abbotsford to attend with them I was advised that Abbotsford was on diversion and they could not care for us," Gregg said.
Oglesby said one of the solutions she and other midwives have offered is to run the maternity unite “as a low risk midwifery lead unit. But that hasn’t been entertained.”
“We are working to be able to resolve the temporary shortage by the end of august,” said Juma. “We are working with the physicians and these midwives to ensure that women who are expected to deliver at Chilliwack know of the plans and that they are prepared to deliver at Abbotsford instead.”