Opinion » Letters to the Editor


This week's letters to the editor


Page 6 of 8

Rene McDain



Bring midwives to corridor

Squamish Midwives Now is a group of concerned and responsible citizens responding to the dilemma concerning the maternity care choices in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. For over two years, three midwives have been trying to obtain privileges at Squamish General Hospital (SGH), which services the corridor, including Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and surrounding communities. Their request for privileges, though needed and desired by this community, has been unduly delayed and ultimately denied. Now, in order for midwives to receive privileges within the next year at Squamish General Hospital, the hospital has set criteria for midwifery practice that will require funding to be allocated by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) as part of the 2008-2009 budget.

Squamish Midwives Now wants registered midwives to have hospital privileges at SGH, giving them the ability to responsibly practice and offer full-service midwifery care throughout the Sea-to-Sky corridor. We are appealing to the VCHA to seriously consider this request when formulating their upcoming budget. Midwives have been fully integrated into the B.C. medical health care system since January 1998; their services are covered by the Medical Services Plan and funded by the Ministry of Health.

Other rural communities in B.C., like Squamish, do not have onsite access to an obstetrician yet have integrated midwives into their facilities. Families in areas such as Sechelt, Creston, Salt Spring Island and other small communities are accessing local midwives.

It is time that the growing numbers of women in the Sea to Sky have the same access to midwifery care as other women in the province. We deserve a choice in prenatal, delivery and postpartum care for ourselves and our newborns in our own community. We are demanding that we have access to the many benefits of midwifery care: the choice of where we birth our babies, continuity of care, fewer interventions and higher breastfeeding rates. Additionally, the fact that midwifery care can reduce costs for the system (reduced visits to the emergency room, reduced or no hospital stays, lower re-admission rates, etc.) should be a strong motivator to allow midwives to work at Squamish General Hospital (SGH).

There are many families living in or moving to the Sea to Sky. Unfortunately, many women are struggling to secure pre- and post-natal care in these communities, as many family doctors are either not accepting new patients, not providing maternity care, or are soon retiring. If a woman must access care outside the community, or is transferred due to staffing shortages at SGH, she will have to travel an estimated minimum one-hour drive or by ambulance ride from SGH on Highway 99 (known for its natural hazards, road closures and frequent accidents) and will often be placed in the care of an unknown physician. With registered midwives servicing Sea to Sky the burden currently placed on SGH, the medical system and the women of the community would be greatly alleviated. We support the efforts of Squamish Midwives Now and want women to be able to access the care of registered midwives in their own community. If you would like to support this movement, please go to www.midwivesnow.com and sign our online letter of support. Kazuko Hiroe and Christine Gavin-Bartlett