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FORT NELSON, B.C.- With pregnant mothers in Williams Lake receiving paid relocation to have their babies in other communities due to a lack of obstetric staffing in their own communities, this news is frustrating for the pregnant mothers in Fort Nelson that have travelled to birth their babies without compensation for years.

Mayor Gary Foster who has been trying to get the same help for maternity residents in his community hopes with the light that has been put on the William’s Lake situation by Interior Health Authority will be recognized by the Provincial Government and Northern Health Authority for Fort Nelson.

A public announcement released by Interior Health shared ‘due to an unexpected and critical shortage of maternity nurses, Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) has regretfully decided to temporarily suspend inpatient obstetrical services.’

According to the announcement Interior Health and physicians in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House are working together to notify all expectant mothers individually of this change in care and to support them in making arrangements for a stay in another community, such as Kamloops or Prince George, where they can safely deliver their babies.

Yet there are other maternity patients that must leave their communities in order to receive obstetric care, which is not financially compensated just because their towns hospitals do not staff the adequately trained positions required, Fort Nelson is one of those communities.

After the recent Public Announcement by the Interior Health, Mayor Gary Foster of Fort Nelson posted the following message to the town’s website regarding maternity services.

Fort Nelson Mayors message to the Residents regarding maternity services,

I wanted to address an issue that is currently the subject of significant conversation in our community; travel costs associated with a lack of maternity services. Late last week we were made aware that the Interior Health Authority is providing funding for expectant parents to travel to give birth during a temporary closure of the maternity services at the Williams Lake Hospital. This financial support is something the Northern Rockies has been lobbying for over several years while our own local maternity services have been shuttered. As such, I want to assure you that your local government is investigating the matter and will be following up with the relevant Provincial agencies to ensure that our community’s needs are also heard by decision makers.

In speaking with Mayor Foster this has been a very long time situation for his maternity residents as it is costly and a cause of hardship for young families to birth children in the Northern Rockies. The Mayor expressed the breakdown to me what costs are involved when leaving home to birth your child in another community, such as the recommended 5 week stay away from home in a hotel that can cost $3500 based on a $100 a day room, then the cost of meals per day, the cost of travel, childcare if there are already children in the family unit and then the emotional toll from stress a new mum endures by being away from her family.

Mayor Foster shares this is also the case for their cancer patients needing to travel away for their chemotherapy treatment.

“I am optimistic the Premier and the Minister of Health will see the plight of the people in the Northern Rockies and take the appropriate action”, said Mayor Foster, “It’s time Northern Health Authorities does what the Interior Health Authority did, it’s about equal access to services throughout B.C.”

Mayor Foster goes on to say, “I am hoping they will see the reason and have a closer look at the problem, we are asking for reasonable accommodations for people to have families and access to chemotherapy for our citizens.”

Message from the Mayor; CLICK HERE


Public service announcement; CLICK HERE

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