Please find below a response to your email inquiring about the recent announcement about the shift in programs/services between the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital and Canmore General Hospital. We hope that the response will help you understand some of the complexities involved in decisions around a shift in services.
Regarding community consultations that took place, invitations were extended to organizations and individuals to ensure there was broad based representation from the Bow Valley.
Covenant Health – Banff Mineral Springs Hospital extended invitations to 67 individuals who had connections with our community, the Mineral Springs Hospital and the geographic we serve. Of those, 42 were residents of Banff.
Alberta Health Services extended invitations to 62 individuals who had connections with Canmore and the geographic area served by Canmore. It is important to note that planning was not limited to individual communities but took a broader context to health service planning. The attached document and links provide a more extensive description of the methodology used will assist you in your understanding of the process utilized. These are public documents posted on the Alberta Health Services website.
Regarding research cited to demonstrate numbers of births to maintain competency; there is no definitive research that we are aware of. Having said that, facilities need to always take a critical look at patient safety when the number of deliveries per year declines. The impact of declining numbers of deliveries (for example, deliveries per year less than 100) has more of a profound impact on nursing as the probability of a nurse having exposure and experience to a delivery and maternal child care is reduced when you have declining numbers of deliveries. Obstetrics is a specialty area of nursing and requires advanced practice skills to ensure competency and confidence in the birthing process.
The decision to shift services is not based on complaints. There are many women and families who have had a great birthing experience at the Mineral Springs Hospital. The challenge on a daily basis is to ensure adequate staffing to manage obstetrical cases. Staff regularly voice concerns about feeling competent and confident about managing obstetrical cases. On numerous occasions where staff have refused to be involved in deliveries or requested that a more senior nurse or the Manager of the unit come in (often after working a full shift) to assist or manage the case. Recruiting RNs trained in obstetrics has also been a challenge as well as finding nurses who are willing to work in Banff as they know it is a requirement that they learn and develop this skill base.
It is not a concern that there are seven Family Practice Physicians willing to practice obstetrics in the Bow Valley. Fortunately there is a group that have established a low risk clinic where they can offer Bow Valley families this service. The issue of competence and safety is not an issue for physicians (in Banff or Canmore) but is an issue for nursing. Canmore deliveries will exceed 300 deliveries per year so there will be ample opportunity for nursing staff at the Canmore Hospital to gain the practice and competency level they require to ensure safe quality care. There are not too many Family Practice physicians in Canmore. The Bow Valley is very fortunate to have eight Family Practice physicians (seven in Canmore and one in Banff) with an interest in practicing in the area of obstetrics. It is important to note that the one Family Practice physician who delivers babies in Banff will be able to continue her practice in Canmore once the services shifts to the Canmore Hospital at the end of March.
We trust that you will find this information helpful in understanding the decisions made to support quality and safety of maternal child care.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Project Coordinator ,
Alberta Health Services
Suite 1220, Standard Life Building
10405 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 3E4
Phone: (780) 643-4640, Cell: 780 952 2052 Fax: (780) 643-4559