Expectant mothers in the eastern Fraser Valley who planned on delivering at Chilliwack General Hospital will soon have to go elsewhere to give birth.
“Fraser Health is asking pregnant women not to come to Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) temporarily, beginning June 24,” according to a Fraser Health statement issued Wednesday. “In cases of urgent need, they should go to the Emergency Department nearest to them. If the mother believes she is having complications, she should call 911.
“Expectant mothers who have pre-existing plans to deliver at CGH should attend also Abbotsford Regional Hospital for their delivery.”
The diversion is the result of personal circumstances reducing the availability of CGH’s only two practising obstetrician-gynecologists. Because of the situation, medical coverage on the maternity ward would be lacking if an emergency situation presented during a labour.
The announcement means that pregnant women in the eastern Fraser Valley from Chilliwack to Boston Bar who are due at the end of the month will have to head to Abbotsford when it comes time to deliver their babies.
It’s unknown at this time how long the diversion will be in place, but it’s estimated to last anywhere from two to three months.
As for how many women this will affect: “We anticipate on average two deliveries per day, which can be accommodated at Abbotsford Regional Hospital,” said Tasleem Juma, senior consultant of pubic affairs for Fraser Health.
Members and stakeholders involved in pre- and post-natal patient care in the region were scheduled to meet Thursday morning to discuss with Fraser Health the impeding diversion, and how to mitigate the diversion’s affects for patients across the entire Valley.
Local reaction to the move has been furious.
City Councillor Jason Lum called the move “unacceptable” in a post on social media.
”Fraser Health must take immediate steps to fill the required vacancies and get the Chilliwack Maternity ward back to full service,” Lum said in a Facebook comment. “Two to three months is too long.”
Coun. Chris Kloot similarly responded on Twitter.
This is totally unacceptable. We are a regional hospital and this is not in the best interest of our region. I look forward to hearing of your solution to fix this ASAP.
— Chris Kloot (@ChrisKloot) June 6, 2019
“This is totally unacceptable,” Kloot said in response to Fraser Health’s announcement. “We are a regional hospital and this is not in the best interest of our region. I look forward to hearing of your solution to fix this ASAP.”
Former mayor and BC Liberal MLA John Les had even stronger words.
“This is a bloody outrage,” he said in a post.
“If implemented, this two-to-three month suspension of deliveries will become permanent. This has been Fraser Health’s dream all along: centralize everything in Abbotsford. This is as big a kick in the head as Chilliwack has had for a long time. Are we going to take it lying down?”
– with files from Sarah Gawdin