Surrey – Pressure from politicians, the public, and especially Moms-to-be has paid off. The summer closure of the Chilliwack Hospital department is now a mere three weeks. Moms in Chilliwack and the Eastern Valley, let alone the Fraser Canyon, can breathe a little easier about what will be available to them come due date. Heading to Abbotsford will still be a reality, but only for 19 days and not the entire summer.
This is the official media release from Fraser Health. It is clear from their release that some shifting maneuvers happened to make this workable:
Thanks to the strong teamwork of Fraser Health and its partners, full maternity services will resume on July 9th at Chilliwack General Hospital, reducing the total diversion time down to two weeks from the anticipated 15 weeks.
From June 24 to July 9, Fraser Health is asking pregnant women who were going to give birth at CGH to go to nearby Abbotsford Regional Hospital instead.
The health and safety of moms and babies is our first priority. We appreciate the impact this service change may have, but it is temporary and not expected to impact a large number of patients. The decision to have a temporary diversion was made to ensure a high level of care for expecting mothers, in part due to an obstetrician shortage.
Patients do not need to find new doctors or midwives, nor do they need to make arrangements to seek out a physician at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. All those arrangements will be made by their current care team for the time period of the temporary diversion.
For pregnant women, routine prenatal care will continue to take place through community offices, as will postnatal care, and that routine non-stress testing (baby heart beat test) will continue at Chilliwack General Hospital during this time, and it would only be for high-risk pregnancies that non-stress testing would be referred to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
Typically Chilliwack has three obstetricians providing full coverage. However, from June 24-July 9, there is only one obstetrician to provide 24/7 coverage which is not sustainable from a patient care and safety perspective. Chilliwack General Hospital will be on a limited two-week diversion during this time period and following that will resume regular maternity service.
All hospital services have diversion plans in place for specialized services such as maternity, cardiac care or trauma and these plans are to ensure that patients who need these levels of service always have access to care even if there is intermittent capacity or human resource challenges at one site. Routine diversions are to ensure safe care for people, will continue to happen as needed, are usually for 24-48 hours and are part of how a network of hospitals support each other. For Chilliwack General Hospital, intermittent diversion may occur for these reasons as per our normal network of hospital practices.