40% of women in rural Canada have to drive at least 1 hour away for maternity services
For pregnant women in Fort Nelson, B.C., part of the prenatal routine includes agreeing not to have their babies in the northern community.
“Due to staffing issues, we are unable to conduct safe obstetric care,” says the memo from the health centre.
An official with Northern Health, which oversees health centres in the region, says while physicians and staff are equipped to respond to an “unplanned delivery,” women are advised to leave up to a month before their due date because “the safety of both the mother and the baby must come first.”
Fort Nelson, a community of 3,500, is one of dozens of rural communities in Canada where maternity services have been eliminated, in part because of the ongoing struggle to recruit and retain doctors in remote parts of the country.
The lack of intrapartum care means some women have to travel hundreds of kilometres and pay thousands of dollars to have their babies, even though health experts say long-distance delivery can come with greater health risks. . . [Full Text]