Expectant mothers distressed as N.W.T. plans to ship them to Alberta

Sara Hatcher, an expectant mother in Yellowknife due simply earlier than Christmas, had her plans for the delivery of her second youngster all set.

She had a doula she appreciated. Her dad and mom had booked flights from Atlantic Canada to be with her and her companion, a rotational mine employee, who was working now to make positive he’d be off when she’d want him by her facet. 

On Monday, these plans have been shattered.

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority mentioned “staffing challenges” at Yellowknife’s solely hospital, Stanton Territorial Hospital, means it will possibly’t function birthing providers safely, so it determined to switch many expectant moms within the territory and components of Nunavut with due dates from Dec. 10 till Feb. 21 to Edmonton to ship their infants. 

Families counting on the Inuvik hospital, midwifery helps in Fort Smith and providers in Hay River will not be affected. Families in western Nunavut, who usually journey to Yellowknife forward of their births, will now have to journey even farther.

Hatcher mentioned she felt blindsided by the announcement. She has solely a few week to depart for Edmonton so that she isn’t travelling past being 37 weeks pregnant, the beneficial restrict for expectant moms planning to journey. This means she will be in Edmonton for a couple of weeks earlier than the supply.

With no household in Yellowknife, Hatcher would not know what to do with her toddler. The territory will pay for one assist particular person to go with her, however her husband is not off rotation but, and she’s being informed she must journey.

“It’s very stressful and it’s not good for the baby and I,” she mentioned.

‘Who’s going to observe him?’

Naomi Pearl, in Fort Good Hope, can be feeling overwhelmed. 

While she would have wanted to depart her small group to ship the infant on the hospital in Yellowknife, her mom is in Yellowknife, making it a group she would have needed to provide delivery in, and where she gave delivery to her first youngster. 

“Everything is so complicated. I don’t know what to think,” she mentioned.

The switch to Edmonton means she’ll have to be away from her son for 3 to 5 weeks, which is just too lengthy, she mentioned.

“Who is going to watch him? I’m just worried because my son is always with me, he never leaves my side,” she added. 

Naiya Aqqaq, in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, is hoping she will be capable of take her child and her boyfriend with her to Edmonton to ship her subsequent youngster. She has gotten few particulars on what the Northwest Territories determination to divert births to Edmonton means for her. (Naiya Aqqaq/Submitted)

Naiya Aqqaq in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, has a child due in January she was set to ship at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

She’s acquainted with travelling to Yellowknife where she had other infants. The change has created questions for her and he or she has been informed little or no, she mentioned. She is attempting to get solutions about what this implies for the infant she already has and the bills.

“We are looking at each situation for its unique circumstances and trying to accommodate people,” mentioned N.W.T. Minister of Health and Social Services Julie Green on CBC’s The Trailbreaker. She mentioned she is hoping moms have employer plans or entry to other advantages that would possibly increase what they get from the territorial government.

‘Great disruption’ to households

Dr. Michael Bokor, clinic director of Juniper Health in Yellowknife, mentioned he is “disappointed” within the territory’s transfer and worries about his clinic’s many sufferers who’re pregnant. 

“The initial days after giving birth are really important to a parent and their child, and if you are in an environment that is stressful or anxiety inducing, I don’t think that’s great for you or the parent-infant health outcomes,” he mentioned. 

Heather Heinrichs, president of the Midwives Association of N.W.T., mentioned the sudden determination is worrisome for maternal health.

“Leaving your community for birth causes great disruption to the family. People are at a much greater risk of having mental health problems, depression, anxiety, those types of things,” she mentioned.

‘Last resort’

A spokesperson for the N.W.T. health authority mentioned the scenario was largely out of their management as a result of components together with “the timing of … staff departures, maternity leaves and medical leaves.”

The components have been coupled with nationwide shortages of nurses and challenges recruiting employees to work over the vacations, he mentioned. A union representing government staff at Stanton informed CBC extra closures have been possible.

Green mentioned the health authority was confronted with 70 upcoming vacant shifts on the hospital. The transfer was “necessary in order to be able to provide safe and effective obstetrics care,” she mentioned.

Leading as much as the announcement, the health authority exhausted all other staffing choices, she mentioned. 

Bokor mentioned extra ought to have been achieved to construct a extra sturdy system.

“When we look at really robust health systems, they have other options for care and it seems [here], when there is a nursing shortage, everything else just shuts down,” mentioned Bokor. He feels midwifery must be extra valued.

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