Letter to the Editor: A response to the article ‘Mothers travelling out of Revelstoke in order to have a midwife’

I am writing in reference to the article in last week’s Review ‘Mothers travelling out of Revelstoke in order to have a midwife.’ I gave an interview for this article but I do not feel my views were accurately reflected and am writing to set the record straight.

I don’t feel the article clearly articulated why someone like me would choose to drive over an hour for pre-natal care and for the birth of their child when I could receive care in Revelstoke. So I would like to explain what led to this decision.

READ MORE: Mothers travelling out of Revelstoke in order to have a midwife

My first child was delivered under the care of Birte Paschen, a midwife who used to practice in Revelstoke. During my first pregnancy I received exceptional continuity of care. All of my pre-natal, labour and post-natal care was delivered by Birte. She also offered the option of home birth and water birth.

This experience was in stark contrast to my treatment at Selkirk Medical during my second pregnancy where I saw three different doctors in the early stages of pregnancy, was unclear who would actually be available to deliver my baby and was told that doctors do not support home births and have not found a way to install a water birthing pool in the hospital. Because of these issues, I decided to transfer to Shuswap Midwifery in Salmon Arm.

I approached the Editor with this story about the lack of midwifery options for Revelstoke women when I learned that one of the midwives at Shuswap Midwifery was not only born and raised in Revelstoke, but currently lives in Revelstoke and wants to practice here. In fact, we sometimes found ourselves separately driving to Salmon Arm for my pre-natal appointments at the clinic.

When I expressed my desire to have a home birth in Revelstoke, I was informed that the Shuswap Midwives do not have hospital privileges in Revelstoke and therefore, despite living here, could not safely provide the care they had been trained for and that I requested (local hospital privileges are required even for home births, in case any complications arise).

Your article attributes the following statement to Dr. Katherine Brown: “Another issue, Brown said, is ensuring there is enough clinical work to keep family physicians who are also surgeons or anesthesiologists living in the community.” We are extremely lucky, as a small rural community, to have great medical practitioners – but that shouldn’t have to result in protectionist policies. If they were providing an identical service for obstetrics, which in my experience they are not, this would be a reasonable argument.

But when Dr. Brown states in the article that “For us it is more a right of choice” I have to ask: whose choice is she talking about: the doctors’ choice to protect their business? Or the patient’s choice to receive the care they are entitled to?

Last week’s article ends on a negative note, citing “That there are so many cogs in this machine and so many different organizations and there is politics and all of this so that is why they fund these projects in the amount of $60,000 because of coordination that has to occur between so many different groups is kind of insane.”

I would argue to the contrary, that the facts here are simple. Women deserve a right to choose what kind of care they receive. Interior Health’s Shared Care project plan may very well prove to be the long-term sustainable balance that allows a solo midwife to work alongside local doctors…but while these feasibility studies are being undertaken, there is a capable, qualified and experienced midwife currently living in town, who wants to practice here. Dr. Brown says: “We want to keep those 17 women home, we want to keep those 17 women off the highways…” – if that’s truly the case, they would be picking up the phone and calling our midwife to begin discussions for hospital privileges tomorrow.

-Miriam Manley

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