A story about limited access to prenatal care.
By Max Winkelman
Local moms and soon-to-be moms are extremely frustrated with the lack of prenatal care in the South Cariboo. Ashley Caines is just one such mom, who’s currently about 17 weeks pregnant with her second child.
“When I first found out I was pregnant, I contacted all the clinics in 100 Mile only to be told no one was taking prenatal patients. I spoke to my family doctor who said he also couldn’t do prenatal care because it costs doctors extra insurance per month to be covered to do this kind of care.”
Next, she considered a midwife in Kamloops, she says.
“I phoned around to all the midwife clinics only to be told that no one had any room. I phoned a bunch of the clinics in Williams Lake, again, only to be told that everyone was very busy. As you can imagine, I felt quite helpless. I was constantly being turned down for prenatal care by everyone and it is my right to be able to receive proper medical care.”
Deliveries were performed in the 100 Mile District General Hospital up until this year, when the lone general practitioner anesthetist retired, according to Dr. Nancy Humber, a senior medical director with Interior Health (IH) for the interior west rural region.
“The [Health Authority] is thankful for the dedication and commitment of the departing physician for supporting this service. With this departure and other staffing challenges in obstetrics, obstetric services and maternity care will be suspended at 100 Mile District Hospital, and care will be provided through a coordinated plan with the perinatal team at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake. All pregnant women in 100 Mile House will be connected to a provider for the delivery of their baby outside of the community.”
Caines says it was difficult to find that connection.
“No one could provide me any direction,” she says.
“My last option was to get a referral to my previous prenatal doctor (who is amazing but I was hoping to do my prenatal care up to 30 weeks in 100 Mile. It’s tough having to travel to Williams Lake for prenatal care with a toddler and a husband who works a lot) in hopes he would accept me even though the office told me no one was taking any more patients. Luckily, he accepted me. Otherwise, I have absolutely no idea what I would do.”
The appointments can get quite frequent, exacerbating the problem. For her last pregnancy, Caines had to go for non-stress tests three times a week for the last few weeks of pregnancy due to high blood pressure.
Caines is a stay at home mom and her husband is an RCMP officer.
“I don’t have daycare. We are posted provinces away from our families so we don’t have family we can drop my son off with. I just book appointments on his days off, with fingers crossed he doesn’t end up having to work.”
The issue affects mothers from Lac la Hache to the Interlakes area who are often travelling for more than an hour each way every week or even multiple times a week.
100 Mile is not unlike other communities in the province, says Humber.
“There has been a change in the number of physicians who are there. There’s been new physicians who come as well as older physicians retiring,” she says. “It’s really common for us to see the older family physicians [have] a very broad skillset, more of a rural, generalist skillset and it’s becoming harder on a provincial level to recruit into that skillset.”
Continue reading (off-site)
Scroll to the first header