The maternity ward in Williams Lake is back in business after reopening Tuesday, April 30 for low-risk deliveries.
Interior Health made the announcement regarding maternity services at Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) Monday, after closing the ward at the end of February due to a critical staffing shortage of maternity nurses.
“We would like to thank CMH staff and physicians for their flexibility and dedication during this challenging period and to our maternity nurses for their support of CMH patients in the months ahead,” stated an IH news release.
While low-risk deliveries will resume this week — two months earlier first anticipated, expectant mothers and babies at higher risk of complications during their deliveries will continue to be directed to Kamloops or the community of their choice at this time.
“The safety of expectant mothers and their babies will be the top priority in all decisions related to the most appropriate delivery site in each case,” stated IH.
Low risk deliveries include babies who have reached full term (37+ weeks) for expectant mothers with pregnancies that have had no or minimal complications. CMH will also be able to perform planned and emergency C-sections as required.
Expectant mothers should consult with their physicians regarding whether they can plan for deliveries at CMH or whether they still need to relocate.
There is still a potential for temporary interruptions to local maternity services in the months ahead, said IH. Contingency plans to support expectant mothers remain in place if service is temporarily unavailable at CMH.
“Interior Health recognizes this change has affected expectant mothers and families in the region over the last few months and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work diligently to restore full maternity services in Williams Lake.”
In addition to the recent hiring of two new maternity nurses for CMH in April, one new maternity nurse will be hired in May and seven CMH nurses are currently being trained in full-scope maternity care and are expected to be ready to support Cariboo area patients in July.
In addition, maternity nurses from other areas of Interior Health and outside Interior Health are coming to Williams Lake to support local patients. Interior Health is confident full maternity services will resume at CMH at that time.
As of Monday afternoon, 61 area babies were born since the maternity services were suspended in Williams Lake,with 11 of those at CMH and the rest out of area.
Expectant mothers took to social media Monday to express their relief and gratitude that most are now able to stay home to deliver their babies.