About us

We are a community group based in Banff Alberta Canada fighting to keep the Maternity services open in our local hospital.

We have been successful  in getting a judicial review with AHS/Covenant Health And a new partner  -our Government. Date Monday June 20th.

Would you like to Join us in Calgary on June 20th for our Judicial Review? Please send us a message on Facebook letting us know

Calgary Courts Centre,
601 – 5 Street SW,
Calgary, AB
This is a major step  forward  as we know the process was flawed




As an English student doctor visiting the Alpine Medical Centre, I was impressed at the quality of healthcare offered in the small family practice that serves this rural community. The doctors were highly skilled in a variety of specialties, but I was surprised to hear that not all of their skills were being utilized to their full potential. The news that Alberta healthcare had recently shut Banff maternity and prohibited Dr. Jane Fowke from delivering babies in Banff, shocked me to the core. Patients now have to travel to Canmore when they perceive themselves to be in active labour (this is often more difficult than it sounds). Patient choice is a core principle of healthcare and it is unethical to remove this. If women want to deliver in Banff, they should be able to. More than 2,000 people signed a petition to keep obstetrics in Banff, yet this was ignored and services were closed anyway.

Furthermore it has since been proven that this move has significantly increased the risk to mothers and babies in Banff. I was shocked but not surprised to hear that last week a pregnant patient had to deliver in the emergency department of the Mineral Springs Hospital, at just 27 weeks gestation. Merely hours earlier she had been sent home as “they did not have any concerns” when she was clearly in labour. She arrived back in the morning ready to push! Fortunately, mother and baby were both OK, but this whole situation could have been avoided if a full obstetrics service had been in place in Banff — Dr. Fowke could have properly assessed the mother and promptly sent her to the Foothills Hospital where they are fully equipped for complicated deliveries such as these. Management claim the staff in the emergency department are fully trained, but it appears nothing could be further from the truth. Is it right that obstetrics has been substituted with medical tourism namely private plastic surgery? Is it acceptable that criminal charges may be brought against Dr. Fowke for borrowing obstetric instruments in order to properly manage her pregnant patients at the level they deserve?

I would like to thank Dr. Fowke and all of the patients who helped me learn and develop my skills as a future doctor. I believe the people in Banff deserve the best care available and the right to choose – there is no question in my mind that Banff maternity should remain open.

Good luck with the judicial review and Save Banff Maternity.

Chloe Pettit

United Kingdom

Dear Minister,

We are writing this in response to your request outlining our concerns for the proposed closure of maternity in Banff. This is a matter of Province –wide importance especially since maternity hospitals in Calgary are often full and rural hospitals are expected to help with the burden.  Canmore is no exception as it has a large native population and operates daily on a bed shortage.

Mineral Springs hospital is a community hospital funded by the government and thus is expected to serve the needs of the community. In the 2011 census the population of Banff was 8244 with more than half being in their child bearing years. The majority of this population is in the work industry and a large percent have few resources. We must not forget the huge number of tourists that frequent our national Park and require the expertise in this area of medicine.

Currently we have excellent Doctors with expertise in maternity, caesarian sections and Pediatrics who actually live in the Community of Banff.  The concern of sustainability of the program is completely unfounded, as the Alpine Medical Clinic has just accepted another doctor who brings with her years of Obstetrical experience. She is also very used to working in rural areas.

The news is full of rural towns loosing Doctors, so why are we not going out of our way to encourage these doctors to stay rather than forcing them to move as the services are not available for them and their patients.

Numbers have been stated as a reason for this proposed closure and the difficulty in keeping staff trained. Firstly rural hospitals fluctuate immensely year to year whereas urban hospitals keep steady numbers. 52 deliveries in 2012 is actually a high number compared to a lot of rural hospitals. If you closed us down because of this number then you would be closing down a lot of maternity hospitals across Canada. The number of deliveries planned for 2013  in Banff is 70. This is a large number and is expected to increase with the impending arrival of our new OB Doctor. In the UK fulltime Midwives only deliver between 30-40 babies a year so the Doctor in Banff actually has a large volume.

The nurses In  Banff are extremely well trained and skilled in this area, with one of the nurses being an instructor in neonatal resuscitations. They are not concerned about their skills as we have continuous in house training with MoreOB and regular workshops. Doctors deliver babies and the nurses provide the care. AHS/Covenant  health care need to focus on the skills of the doctors and if the doctors are competent than it is the administrations job to keep the staff well trained. Nursing is not a problem at the MSH but undermining their ability will make a problem.

Safety is cited as the main concern.  No real reason has been given apart from low numbers and administrations perceived concerns about staffing. We know the numbers are not low and indeed are growing and we know the staff are skilled and competent.

Patient satisfaction in Banff is extremely high with our OB Doctor producing excellent results. Her caesarian section rate for 2012 was 8%. Canmore`s in 2011 was 38%. We believe that there numbers are still high for 2012 but the latest stats are not available. Not only does she keep her CSection rate down she also has a very low high degree tear rate. As you are fully aware WHO has been very critical of the extremely high CSection rates in North America. They state that the rate should be between 10-15% . The provincial rate is 27%

Why close down a facility that costs the health care very little money and is obviously working well and force women to go to a centre with poor results and a huge drain on the health care system. Are we not meant to be looking at Fiscal restraint and improving health care.?

Pregnant women have no voice and need to be protected from the system especially when they have no choice. You are giving them no choice, no accessibility and poor quality service.  An unnecessarily caesarian section  often forces them to have repeat Caesarian sections and sets them up for increased morbidity both for mother and child. This pending decision is going to force many families to have unattended births which unfortunately is growing in Alberta.

A Hospital`s sole duty is to treat sick patients without discrimination. Neglecting any particular area or procedure for which expertise exist can never be excused by the mere statement that it is not a ‘core programme’. The question is as to whether patients can be denied treatment in their own hospital and if so how can it be done and on what grounds? It is of such importance that it can only be decided by you.

Does the community really need vascular and plastic services?  I ask you with a heavy heart?  It is so sad that the plastic surgeon was on the small committee which decided to remove the Obstetrical services as it was in his vested interest to gain more OR time. No one directly involved in the OB program in Banff was consulted not even our local OB Doctor.

More information is being made available about the refusal of the plastic surgeons to bill AHS for AHS related surgeries. They are requesting that all these patients go privately with the MSH still getting  funded from AHS. Something is not right and the last thing that the government need is another inquiry.

The vascular surgeons will be coming up from Calgary with their own patients mainly from Calgary. This is not a community hospital.

The community has risen up in support with a petition that has now got over 1300 signatures.

You have chosen to ignore a community concern that relates to health care, which is your responsibility and mandate. You have been elected in a democratic and political process and should welcome opportunities to be in contact with well-educated not emotional members of the Banff community. To disregard this important matter shows irresponsibility, insensibility and a total lack of respect for the community of Banff.

You have indicated that this request is not valid because it has become political disallows for the political process that is part of the effective management of situations or conflicts. Democratic systems like Canada require political involvement of all its citizens beyond casting a vote to be able to be called democracy.

In conclusion AHS/Covenant health feel that they have succeeded with their plan in that the administration are planning to close down the program on safety grounds. This is a very old tactic that has been tried before when they tried to close down the endoscopy program. Interestingly this is the next service to be forced out again . The pattern repeats itself. When will it stop? The huge implications for patient care will be obvious to you.


5 thoughts on “About us

  1. I was born in Banff in 1949, as was my cousin Ann (1948) …. My father and my grandfather and my uncle were all doctors in Banff from about 1920 until the ’50’s… (Dr’s Robinson) I cannot believe that babies will not be born in Banff any more… What a wonderful place to be born!!!!! …. and…. This is an outrageous tragedy. How can I help?

  2. As a Registered Midwife who had the unique perspective of having practiced in both Banff and Canmore Hospitals, I feel I should weigh in on this conversation. First off, my heart is breaking for my home community. It will be a major loss for this small mountain town.

    I should preface my comments by saying that I did enjoy many good working relationships with the physicians and nurses. They are good people, who do care about their patients. While homebirth was not supported, I was never refused a consult and was afforded the trust to manage my own epidurals as well as oxytocin inductions/augments, which can be a challenge for many other midwives in smaller centers.

    From my experience in both sites there are some significant maternity care challenges. Anesthesia coverage in both sites can be patchy, especially during the summer months. It is also true, as pointed out by previous members, the c/s and 3rd/4th degree tear rates are higher than national averages, however I believe there are a few systemic reasons for this sad occurrence.

    First of all, obstetrics in Canmore hospital has a culture of fear associated with it. I observed many “non-evidence based” practices during my years of work. Most of these ‘policies’ stem from a general fear of birth from the GP’s and a lack of confident/experienced nursing staff. While in recent years, Canmore hospital has participated in MoreOB, in my experience, the skills drills did not translate into the delivery room.

    VBAC, as mentioned previously, is not permitted in the community and I’ve often taken women into Calgary in order to VBAC in a supportive hospital. This can cause significant stress for families and there is no evidence to support this practice.

    Physicians are generally fearful of poor outcomes. Much of this stems from the lack of a basic NICU/neonatal care. This is the logic behind transferring out late preterm labouring women. Physicians practicing Obs in Canmore are GP’s, some with expanded scopes that include general surgery. They are not pediatricians or neonatologists and don’t have the experience to manage a very sick baby. If a baby is having trouble, you cannot just ‘call the team’, you are the team. Quite honestly, it can be both overwhelming and terrifying at times. I have had to transfer babies into Calgary before from both Banff and Canmore and it can take HOURS for a team to arrive. As you are all well aware, hours is too long when dealing with a newborn. Although Canmore is within an hour of Calgary, it can at times, feel very isolated.

    The physicians in this community generally do care about women; however they support an attitude of fear within their practice group that translates into their outcome rates and hospital protocols.

    I left this community for a handful of reasons. As a solo practitioner, under the current midwifery model in Alberta, I could not make arrangements with Physicians to cover my call while I took days off. It was difficult to find regular coverage from other Calgary midwives who had their own busy caseloads over an hour away. While I was attempting to care for ill parents across the country, it was too difficult to manage without support and in the end, I needed to move to support my family. Being on call is not sustainable for anyone 365days/year and unfortunately the caseload in the community is too small for a team if two midwives to sustain themselves.

    I terribly miss being able to offer natural birth choices to the women of the Bow Valley and Jasper (yes, some would travel from Jasper for midwifery care). I strongly support birth in a woman’s community and the return of maternity services to the Banff hospital. I very much enjoyed practicing in the environment there. The LDR was bright, nurses cheerful and atmosphere very positive. Best of luck to the women of Banff.

    Meghanne Reburn RM

    • I’d like to respond to this posting, First of all, I never gave permission for this to be publicly posted. It was written during a time of frustration and was in poor taste. This was a letter to support birth in Banff, and was not intended to bad mouth the Canmore hospital, it’s staff but simply comment on a general feeling when I worked there. I have had nothing but positive experiences with the Nurses and Doctors, many of them are both my friends and colleagues, but stand by my claim that there was indeed a general attitude of fear. Canmore, although not remote, can feel very rural and far away at times and I think this is why it can be more conservative in its practices.
      Again, I’d like to re-itterate, that this was not meant as a slam on the Canmore hospital, it’s staff or physicians nor to support any particular cause or individual physician, it’s simply about supporting a woman’s choice to birth in their location of choice. I respect them all and enjoyed working with them. I hope to return to the Bow Valley to practice one day soon as I call it home. Please feel free to address any concerns directly to me.

  3. It’s important not just to Banff but to all of Alberta and Canada that maternity services be represented in this small community.
    There _should_ be places where life can be lived the way it was meant to be lived, where people know each other and are not forced to own cars to get the services they need to survive.
    Banff has long been a place of inspiration to the world, and to Calgarians, Albertans, and Canadians. The degradation of its health care could have repercussions not just to pregnant women and their families, but to the community as a whole and to other people who look to Banff for reasons that might be less tangible.
    I can tell you that having to be transported in a vehicle while in labour is extremely painful. Also, the road between Banff and Canmore in the wintertime can be impassable. Closing the local facility is not just putting women in a position of discomfort, but also danger.
    And it’s not just women we should fight for. If the government is allowed to degrade the hospital in this way, this time, what services will they look to take next time?

  4. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for delivering my son with Dr Fowke in Banff.. Our experience was fantastic from every perspective, and I was devastated to learn of the closure. I can only hope that it is temporary, and that given the opportunity to hear about the important role the maternity service has in many aspects of Community. i am hopeful that the decision makers will see the light, and return a voice and a choice to those of us bringing new people in to this world, and the special caregivers that commit to support us through the journey.

    To a day of enlightenment and wisdom prevailing on April 8th. Thank you to all for your amazing efforts to bring this meeting to reality.


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