Women living in the Williams Lake area are being advised they will have to travel to deliver because of a maternity nurse shortage at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. Angie Mindus photo

Women say they can’t give birth in Williams Lake due to reported nurse shortage

Staffing shortages at Cariboo Memorial Hospital to blame, say patients

Expectant mothers in the Williams Lake area are being told to travel to Kamloops to give birth due to a maternity nursing shortage at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

Andrea Pinette of Williams Lake is due on March 12 and was told by her doctor to get to Kamloops by the time she is 39 weeks pregnant which is on Monday, March 4.

“I am waiting for a call back today,” Pinette told the Black Press Wednesday. “I know they don’t know a whole lot, but they are putting us into a hotel near the hospital.”

When asked if the travel is being covered, she said she believes she will be compensated for lodging.

She has three other children and is planning to take her two-year old with her because she has no idea how long she will be away from home.

“I am kind of playing it by ear, and I am lucky I have a ton of family in town,” she added. “My doctor’s office was really good about it. It just so happens because I am approaching 39 weeks that they want me to go, and if anything happens before Kamloops I would go to the emergency or operating room here.”

Learning about the maternity nurse shortage was “a bit of shock,” Pinette said.

“I know the doctors don’t know a lot yet and everyone is kind of on standby from what I understood.”

She also said she didn’t want to alarm other expectant moms, but wanted to give them a head’s up.

It is a three-hour drive from Kamloops to Williams Lake.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital services the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and on an annual basis more than 300 babies are born at the hospital according to Perinatal Service BC statistics.

Several expectant mothers took to social media Tuesday evening to share their concerns after they were informed they cannot give birth at their hometown hospital.

Mothers were not only worried about medical concerns but also the added costs and stress of travel.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital is slated for a complete redevelopment, with the business plan expected to be completed in the near future at an initial estimated cost of $130 million.

Read more: Costs up to $15M for Cariboo Memorial Hospital upgrade before shovels hit the ground

In October 2018, South Cariboo moms living in the 100 Mile House area aired similar concerns and frustrations about the lack of prenatal care in their community.

There have not been deliveries at the hospital since 2017.

A delegation from Interior Health is scheduled to attend the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District committee of the whole meeting taking place Thursday, Feb. 28 to provide updates pertaining to the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House health services administrative area.

Read more: BC moms frustrated about lack of prenatal care

Black Press has reached out to Interior Health and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District Chair Bob Simpson for an interview.

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