Birthing decision needs discussion

  • Apr. 7, 2003 3:00 p.m.

Submitted by Tracy Morton, MD–Having a baby on the islands continues to be important to many women contemplating where to deliver. This article is an update on the state of the island’s obstetrical services. Since the announcement of the resignation of Masset’s three physicians, the community will be served by temporary (locum) doctors. At least one will have the skills to provide low risk obstetrical care. However, beyond physician staffing difficulties, the nursing situation is also in crisis, with only a small pool of nurses in this community. There is a commitment from the Northern Health Authority to fund another full time nursing position. To date, this position has not been filled, and Masset Hospital remains significantly short staffed. As always, a discussion with your Masset physician is essential if you are contemplating delivery in Masset.
The situation in Queen Charlotte is better. Charlotte now has committed full time and jobsharing doctors, and they are all interested in providing obstetrics. However, as before, the Queen Charlotte site is not able to provide Caesarian section services, and this is not likely to change in the foreseeable future, even as a “last resort” procedure. One of the doctors has recently returned from a two month educational leave in South Africa, where he worked in an obstetrics hospital and significantly improved his obstetric skills. Other doctors have recently trained in ultrasound, and are able to perform some ultrasounds for specific problems. However, women are still recommended to get a formal ultrasound off island as part of their routine investigations during pregnancy. Without this crucial investigation, it is impossible to determine critical information about the baby, such as placental location, normal growth, and major birth defects. Nursing staffing has improved in the past 12 months, with many having excellent skills and comfort in providing obstetrics. Nursing skills should continue to improve, as there will be ongoing education in Charlotte for obstetrical care. Again, it is important to stress the importance of discussion with your doctor in Queen Charlotte if you are wondering what your options are for delivery.