Emilie Lanoix, a doula holds William Ellis, who is three months old. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

Mothers share insight into Elk Valley maternity services

Planning pregnancies around winter driving? You’re not alone

Mothers in the Elk Valley got the chance to share their insights into maternity care in the community last Monday as part of a consultation process held by Interior Health.

“What can we do to make health care the best that we can in the Elk Valley?” asked Jacquie Arling, project manager for the medical staff association for the Elk Valley Hospital.

“The maternity doctors all see different levels of care,” she said, explaining that they wanted to get together and look at what the ideal care would be for the community.

“Part of it is hearing what the community wants,” said Arling.

The consultation was funded through the facility engagement program through the province.

The consultation is also being supported by Shared Care, a provincial partnership between doctors and the B.C. Ministry of Health.

One of the main questions was about the importance of offering maternity services close to home.

Some parents said that while Fernie offers maternity services at the hospital, they have chosen to go to Cranbrook just because the hospital is larger and the operating room is open 24/7.

Others said that they have planned their pregnancies around not having to drive to Cranbrook in the winter.

“I initially had my first baby here in Fernie,” said Annie MacDonald. She says she had a very positive experience at the hospital in Fernie, but has been traveling to Cranbrook for subsequent births.

“We’re lucky that we have a hospital,” she said. “But for birth I’d be more comfortable going to a bigger hospital.”

The facilitators spoke of new and innovative ways that shared maternity care is being offered in communities.

“The group based maternity care,” said MacDonald. “I think that’s a very interesting idea.”

Group maternity health sessions held in the lower mainland focus on women sharing their experiences and connecting with each other, as well as the healthcare professional.

The concept would focus on helping mothers connect with each other, while servicing multiple patients at a time. Physically personal treatments would not be given during the sessions, but belly measurements, and nutrition consultations would.

“The community might not like that,” said Arling. “Or we might not have the population to do that, but that was just an example of a best practice done in some other communities.”

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