baby care

Closing of birthing units in Ontario worries new parents

Closing of birthing units in Ontario worries new parents

She has prepared to give birth at the hospital, but there are none available. Her husband is on the phone with a nurse at a hospital in the Winchesterin Eastern Ontario, trying to figure out where to go.

They should already be on their way to Winchesterbut her birth unit was closed overnight due to a lack of staff.

Kendra Duval knows the baby is coming. She can’t stop her body’s contractions or slow them down. It was definitely the scariest moment of my entire lifeshe remembers.

Personnel issues

After the ensuing crush, the couple want people to know that health care in the province urgently needs fixing, and that the staffing issues are not confined to the emergency rooms of some hospitals.

I should be here relaxing, recovering from the birth and enjoying my baby. But I’m so angry that this happened to me, and I’m so upset that this could happen to someone else, that I feel like I have to say something about it.launches Ms. Duval.

Ms. Duval, her husband and four-year-old daughter live in the community of Russell in eastern Ontario, a half-hour drive southeast of downtown Ottawa. The couple chose to give birth to their second child at Winchester District Memorial Hospitalalso half an hour away, due to its reputation in obstetrics.

Winchester District Memorial Hospital in Ontario said closing its birthing unit “is the safest option” for patients and staff when understaffed.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean Delisle

Until a week before her due date, November 20, Ms. Duval was unaware that her hospital’s obstetrics unit might shut down.

She discovered it by chance during a routine visit to her obstetrician, when the practice staff told her that they were running late. The doctor had had to help women in need of an induction who couldn’t make it to the hospital that night because the birthing unit didn’t have enough staff to stay open.

Mrs. Duval, blinded by what she heard, asked what would happen to her in that case. She was told that the hospitals communicate regularly with each other, that another hospital would take care of her if the need arose and that she should not worry.

However, she could not help but worry. She had recently had a miscarriage and was therefore closely monitored. This time around, COVID-19 and other viruses have repeatedly made her all the more sick.

I said to my husband: I spent nine-ten months doing everything I could to protect this baby and make sure he was safe. Now I feel like everything is in jeopardy again because we may not get help right away when the time is right.

A baby.

A short umbilical cord, impossible to move by hand, was wrapped around Kayce Duval’s neck at birth and had to be cut. His parents wonder what would have happened if they had been behind the wheel at the time.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean Delisle

Time to give birth, the night of November 22, after two days of premature labor, the birthing unit of Winchester was going to be closed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. due to a lack of staff.

These short-lived closures usually happen a few times a year, but with staffing challenges affecting all of health care, it happened more often earlier this year and over the spokeswoman Jane Adams told CBC News in an email.

In November, the unit was closed six times, between eight and twelve o’clock, each time due to staffingshe added.

Across the province this year, 25 hospitals have temporarily closed their birthing units at least once since July 6 (when Public Health Ontario began tracking the issue) due to staffing shortages.

The Ontario Ministry of Health would not provide a list of hospitals that have closed their birthing units.

From one hospital to another

Mrs. Duval was almost ready to give birth when she arrived at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital, before the birthing unit closed. The nurse who had been monitoring his progress for the past two days told him to come back in the morning to have the waters broken if it didn’t happen on its own.

I collapsed in tears. I said, “I’m really scared it’s coming, that something happens in the night and you’re closed”recalls Ms. Duval.

The nurse therefore took the necessary steps so that the patient could go to the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa, if the labor progressed.

About 45 minutes after returning home, Ms. Duval’s water broke. Her husband called Montfort Hospital to say they were on their way, but the hospital said they had no more room and to call the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus instead.

Montfort Hospital in Ottawa, emergency landing stage.

Montfort Hospital in Ottawa said it is experiencing a nursing shortage like other hospitals in Ontario.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jonathan Dupaul

Mrs. Duval’s spouse called the hospital nurse at Winchester. She replied that the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital had no room either, but that the Hospital Queensway Carleton of Ottawa had some. It was an hour away.

She could hear me screaming in the background and she ended up telling my husband to come back to Winchester for her to reassess us. If needed, we may be able to arrange for an ambulance to take youcontinues Ms. Duval in her story.

When they arrived at the emergency room to re-register, it was too late to go elsewhere.

I was completely panicked. I was erratic. Everything was happening so fast. I kept telling them, “I can’t do this, I’m going to die, I didn’t feel safe.”remembers Ms. Duval.

The nurse accompanied her, along with another nurse and an ER doctor, until an obstetrician arrived 40 minutes later, just in time to deliver the baby.

A short umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck; too short to be moved by hand. He had to be cut while the delivery was still in progress, then staff worked on the infant for 15 minutes to make sure he was okay.

Ms. Duval said the staff was tremendous. She and her husband aren’t mad at the hospital at all. The fact remains that the situation was unfair, according to them.

The nurse sent me home as safely as she could at the time, only to find me back there completely erratic, in labor, with no time to waste. I don’t think anyone deserves to be in such a situation.believes Ms. Duval. Not me as a mother, but not her as someone who is just trying to do her job.

They went the extra mile for us, but we feel like the system let us down, and it let them down too. »

A quote from Kendra Duval

Better conditions

Last week, Ontario’s five largest health care unions announced that staff turnover was close to 15% and that hospitals needed to hire 47,000 people to fix the problem and respond to needs of an aging and growing population. They also blamed the province for trying to limit wage increases to 1%.

The province announced Thursday that a record number of nurses, nearly 14,000, have registered in Ontario so far in 2022, and is investing $14 million to register them. any further.

Nursing staff.

A nurse walks up to a patient in an emergency department in Toronto in January (files).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Evan Mitsui

According to Ms. Duval, health workers deserve more money and appreciation to attract workers.

Without these people, where are we? They deserve more respect than that, and as ordinary people just trying to raise a family, we deserve better than that too. Something’s gotta change and it’s gotta change nowshe hammers.

I’m just scared. I’m afraid health care will let me down again. »

A quote from Kendra Duval

The option the safest

In a statement, the Ontario Ministry of Health said it expects hospitals ensure that all implications are considered when striving to provide the most appropriate range and quality of health care services and programs to patients and residents, within available resources.

Families are encouraged to speak with their healthcare providers and to work together to develop an approach that ensures patients receive the right care when they need it.

None of the hospitals involved would comment directly on Ms. Duval’s situation, citing patient confidentiality.

The hospital of Winchester declared that he do everything possible to find another hospital for patients when the birthing unit closes, and the closing is the safest option when the staff is insufficient. He hopes his squad almost complete will reduce closures.

For its part, Hôpital Montfort explained that it can generally accommodate all patients at its birth center, but when many people are already admitted, we may not be able to provide the level of care they all need.

Like other hospitals in the province, Hôpital Montfort is experiencing a shortage of nursing staff. Maternity ward closures in nearby hospitals are also impacting uscan we read in his statement.

With information from Kristy Nease, CBC News

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