Interior Health (IH) resumed low-risk deliveries at Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) on April 30, following the hiring of two new maternity nurses in April.
Low-risk deliveries include babies who have reached full-term (37+ weeks) for expectant mothers with pregnancies that have had no or minimal complications. CMH will also be able to perform planned and emergency C-sections as required.
The maternity ward was closed since February due to an unexpected critical shortage of maternity nurses.
“Interior Health recognizes this change has affected expectant mothers and families in the region over the last few months and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work diligently to restore full maternity services in Williams Lake.”
Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and area mothers were being directed to other hospitals to give birth.
Expectant mothers and babies at higher risk of complications during their deliveries will continue to be directed to Kamloops or the community of their choice at this time, according to IH, noting that the safety of expectant mothers and their babies will be the top priority in all decisions related to the most appropriate delivery site in each case.
Expectant mothers are advised to consult their physicians about whether they can plan to deliver at CMH or will still need to relocate.
As of April 29, 66 babies were born outside of Williams Lake, according to IH since Feb. 27, when services were suspended, but 11 were born at CMH. The majority of those were born at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
There is still a potential for temporary interruptions to local maternity services and expecting moms should have contingency plans in place if the service is temporarily unavailable at CMH.
In addition to the recent hiring of two new maternity nurses for CMH in April, one new maternity nurse will be hired in May and seven CMH nurses are currently being trained in full-scope maternity care and are expected to be ready to support Cariboo area patients in July. In addition, maternity nurses from other areas of Interior Health and outside Interior Health are coming to Williams Lake to support local patients. Interior Health is confident full maternity services will resume at CMH at that time.
“We would like to thank CMH staff and physicians for their flexibility and dedication during this challenging period and to our maternity nurses for their support of CMH patients in the months ahead.”