Monday, March 2, 2009
My Little Activist - Banff Mineral Springs Hospital Plans to Shut Down Obstetrics Due to Nursing Shortage
The big news in these part has been the proposed "temporary" closing of the obstetrics services at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, due to a nursing shortage. There have been a few very difficult things to take as a far as this news. First, the Hospital tried to make this decision behind closed doors, but it was leaked to the public, so by the time they were able to come together to make their voices heard, the decision was pretty much made. Secondly, they didn't give any warning to the to the 12 women due to give birth there in the month of March, one of them a very good friend who is about to have her first child. Thirdly, the administrator of the hospital keeps pointing to their dedication to the safety of Moms and Babes in all of her interviews, yet as far as I am concerned they have mentally damaged many of these moms. And since I gave birth to my daughter naturally, I can truly say that being mentally ready is the biggest part. Many of these women have no idea where they may give birth tomorrow, and scores of women who are pregnant and set to give birth from now to 8 months from now, may have their current doctor retire if the service is discontinued. That leaves countless women scrambling for a doctor. Fourthly, the Canmore hospital can't possibly handle the increased demand on their services. Plus, they are 30 minutes away. And if they can't handle the load, women would need to go to Calgary, and hour and a half from Banff. Some women who give birth in Banff come from Lake Louise, Field, and further, so that means 2 - 3 hours for them! For more about this here are a couple of links:
Calgary Herald Article
Rocky Mountain Outlook Article
My friend and "boss" (she doesn't like it when I call her that, but I do work for her) and Ulrike, the woman who arranged the rally to support midwives in Calgary, quickly arranged a rally for last Friday. I LOVE a good rally, but since Pam was set to lead this, and to speak, I told her I would run the shop for the day. Quin and I arrived at 10 AM, I ran out to get permanent markers, and then she and I made signs while Pam wrote out her speech. Quin did go with us to the rally for midwives, and it was important to me to be a part of this rally, and to use it to teach her. She is going to be three in May, and I would not want to be hardcore about driving home our views to her, but I simply told her it is important that she express her opinions when she feels strongly about something, and to speak out so her voice can be heard. I do shelter her from things that are not age appropriate and that could damage her, but I use all other situations are a chance to teach her. Most things can be scaled down to a child's level. They are often happy with very little information, just enough to answer their questions, they don't need or want all the details. I am politically aware, passionate, and not afraid to voice my opinions, so she will continue to have opportunities to learn by my example.
I am currently pregnant, due to deliver in early June. My husband and I have planned a homebirth. We are under the care of an incredible midwife, one of only 32 currently in the province, and the only one closer than Cochrane. I am thrilled that our rally in Calgary did make a chance, and that as of April 1st, 2009, Calgary will cover midwifery services. I am blessed to be under the care of our midwife. Our daughter was "caught" by a midwife in Quebec, at an independent Birthing Centre (freestanding, not in a hospital) and it was an incredible experience. We believe in natural birth, and while some people "worry" about that, I trust my body and instincts, and am capable of giving birth without intervention. I am healthy, have low risk pregnancies, and a previous good birth. Our current midwife is not a direct entry midwife (4 years in University, specializing in pregnancy and birth, but not a nurse) but an RN specializing in obstetrics, so hopefully that dispells our families fears. Anyway, I can write on this more another time. All this being said, the closing of Obstetrics does not affect us nearly as much as it does our currently pregnant friends and neighbors who were planning to delivery at Mineral Springs, but it does affect us because it affects them. And because when I think of all the people who chose to live, work, play, and raise their children in this amazingly unique community, I am saddened to think of all the people who will miss the opportunity of giving birth here. The hospital says any closing will be temporary. Just three months. But many people in the know say that is if happens, it will likely happen for good...
Thanks to the rally the hospital decided to put of the decision for one week. This was a Calgary Herald article resulting from the rally.
I wrote personal emails to the hospital administrator and our local MLA. If you would like to do something to make your voice heard you can check out and join this Facebook group, Bow Valley Residents Supporting Banff's Labour & Delivery Program.
So it seems a decision on whether to close would be made by this coming Friday. However, it has been leaked that there was already a memo sent by internal mail that they will close for three months. Stay tuned for more...