It’s no secret parents face a lot of challenges finding maternity care on the North Island.
Travel to the South Island for medical treatment is often necessary. It’s a trek that can place extreme stress on families.
But in the past, that journey would at least result in people getting the care they need.
Unfortunately, the healthcare crisis has only escalated, even on the South Island. The once dependable option to receive maternity care is now under intense strain, leaving patients on their own.
Danielle Garber, 37 and pregnant with twins, told Times Colonist she phoned every South Isle maternity care provider she could find as soon as she found out she was expecting.
“I called every office that at some point in the last five years offers or offered maternity care,” said Garber. “There isn’t a list to refer to — even just trying to find who to call was a lot of work.”
But after all those calls, she was no closer to getting the help she needed.
After weeks of searching, Garber was eventually given the number of a clinic set up at Victoria General Hospital.
The new Urgent Antenatal Care Clinic was established to help care for pregnant woman who don’t have a maternity care provider.
Since March 9, they’ve already become responsible for 84 pregnancy patients, says the Health Ministry.
These are all pregnant woman who had nowhere else to turn.
The clinic’s capacity to provide care for those in need is strained. To start, their primary goal is to get patients who come to them matched with an established maternity clinic.
Dr. Hayley Bos, Regional Perinatal Medical Director at Island Health, encourages anyone who can’t find care to reach out to the clinic, and they’ll do their best to get everyone cared for.
“The turnaround time can be longer than we want it to be, but we are increasing capacity,” said Bos to Times Colonist. “However, maternity care is primary care, and we have a primary care crisis here in South Island, and this is part of a bigger problem.”
Burnout and retirement have practitioners dropping like flies. Now there are only 25 practitioners for the entire South Island, plus all those who travel from the North Isle.
That’s half of what it was just two years ago.
The hope is for the Victoria General Hospital clinic to alleviate pressure on South Island practitioners.
In the meantime, the North Island Chapter of the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice has been working to improve access to maternity care that doesn’t require travel.
“It is about bringing maternity care back to the North Island, specifically around integrating midwifery care,” said Carrera Teal, the Chapter Coordinator for North Vancouver Island, in a press release.
More options can’t come soon enough for all the soon-to-be mothers seeking care right now.
Pregnant women who don’t have a primary maternity care provider can contact the Urgent Antenatal Care Clinic at VGH by calling 250-727-4187 and leaving a voicemail.