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2 thoughts on “Sign the Petition

  1. There has been much discussion about the competence of the nursing staff and that the problem of maintaining competence is one of the main reasons for recommending closure of the maternity service in Banff. First of all, there has been no evidence that nursing is a problem. Outcomes are good and nursing morale is high. A good way to undermine confidence is to say there is a problem with nursing. Nursing has been enthusiastically participating in the ongoing quality assurance program called MOREOb. This puts physicians and nurses into a collective study group together as they would be in real practice. This is how you assure quality.

    Another issue is volume. The volume is large enough at 50 births to maintain quality, providing you engage in exercises like MOREOb. and other review exercises. But why is the volume declining? It has been declining because Alberta Health has been actively discouraging staff, like other family practitioners from practicing in Banff BECUASE they have been giving out the information for a long time that maternity services are closing. Hence when doctors receive that message, they choose to practice elsewhere–like Canmore. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy–meaning that Alberta Health is causing the very thing to happen that they then tell folks is happening. Hummmmmm?

    On the other hand, if Alberta Health were to support the continuation of the high quality maternity care already in place in a gem of a hospital, then doctors and nurses would be drawn to the facility. Who would not be so drawn? It is a great place to practice and live. Banff needs cosmetic plastic surgery? Hardly. What a community hospital needs is what the community needs. A community needs those services that define community–like maternity care, supported by high quality general surgery and anesthesia services, and orthopedic services (the latter due to the ski environment, public health services, school health and pediatric services. There is a pediatrician ready to practice in Banff but again only if the maternity services are not systematically destroyed.

    Services around maternity are all related. High quality maternity goes with pediatric care. Physicians and nurses drawn to both–care about community. Loss of maternity care will lead to a cascade of long term consequences for the community and the hospital. The kind of physician who practices maternity care will be permanently lost to Banff. Those physicians that will replace this kind of physician will likely stay a shorter period of time, and they will be very different in approach and commitment to the community.

    Canmore is not too far away in good weather but this is about so much more than convenience. It is about quality of care and the health of community long term. Short term financial gain as everybody has acknowledged is not the issue. The perfect Canadian hospital is one without nurses, beds, doctors or patients. The budget will always be balanced. But to make a real service to the community takes vision, energy and continuous quality improvement and study of the ongoing needs of the community it serves. That is what defines quality. High quality nursing and physician recruitment and retention will never be a problem in Banff, so long as the administration does its job. Banff has the perfect setting for all that to take place. Don’t loose it.

  2. Dear all,
    The reason of the present letter is to kindly ask for your support against the consolidation of services between the Canmore General Hospital and the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, specially, in the area of obstetrics, which will take place sometime next March.
    According to Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, this consolidation is necessary due to a decrease of births in Banff and, to an increase of births in Canmore. With this action, both, Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health are trying to deprive Banff`s residents of such essential service for their already thriving community.
    With every reason they have exposed to make people believe this consolidation is beneficial, they seem to forget the spirit that inspired the first opening of the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital in the 1930s by four catholic sisters of Antigonish, Nova Scotia (known as Saint Martha’ Sisters), who, with their hard work blessed this place in the Bow Valley, and delivered quality health services with the hopes this hospital would serve the community of Banff, the residents of the Bow Valley and the tourists who visited the National Park . The areas they considered essential were: surgical, medical and obstetrical.
    As a catholic and, a mother myself, I truly believe that giving birth is not only a natural process, but it is also a sacred process linked to the call we all have to build God’s Kingdom.
    Whoever is involved in the decision of closing permanently such essential service at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, is openly acting against the values of Compassion, Respect, Collaboration, Social Justice and Integrity they say that centre possess.
    In a letter from Covenant Health from December 11th, 2012 it’s said: “By relocating all obstetrical services to Canmore, staff and physicians are able to use their specialized skills more often with an increased number of deliveries, which is vital for patient quality, safety, staffing and sustainability”.
    It seems that the authorities involved in the decision are more concerned about the professional side and “experience and skills of the physicians and staff” and see deliveries of babies as a mere number and, overlook the needs of real people who live in Banff and Lake Louise who, in many cases have no means of transportation and would have it difficult and expensive to get to the General Hospital in Canmore, which would not only be terribly uncomfortable for the laboring mother, but would also put both, mother and baby, in high risk, specially during the winter months when roads are very difficult to be driven.
    Not because Canmore and Banff are relatively close, should we think mothers and babies are risk free in a 20 minute drive. Expecting dads or taxi drivers are not are not trained to assist in delivering babies in case the labor and delivery come fast as sometimes occurs and, because in Banff not everybody drives a vehicle, getting a babysit for a safe return of the parents with their new baby is expensive (let’s keep in mind that is not safe and unlawful to drive without properly secure the baby on his/her sit, that taxis are not equipped to transport newborns and there are not commercial establishments that rent babysits).
    First time moms and dads are also under stress because they never have experienced the birth of a child before. The toxins from stress are absorbed by the unborn baby and the lack of oxygen can make even more difficult the labor experience.
    This decision also affects Dr. Jane Fowke, the local family doctor, who has served the community for many years with high quality standards. This lady has a great reputation in the Bow Valley and other cities, for her professionalism, expertise and kindness towards her patients, not to mention that, from all the physicians in the area, she is the one with the lowest number of deliveries via C-Section. She personally couches and helps women deliver their babies naturally. Because of being Banff such a nice small community, this doctor is available for deliveries at practically any time at night. Her office is located only a few minutes walk from the hospital, which makes it so easy for the patient and the staff at the hospital, whenever a patient is in labor… this is something that many communities in Canada would love to have! This is one of the reasons for which the idea of centralizing the obstetrical services in a bigger community like Canmore, is simply absurd!
    It’s also convenient to mention that this is not the first attempt to close the obstetrics section in Banff. Back in 2008 the involved authorities, without any warnings, closed such essential service with the excuse that there was not enough qualified staff to deliver babies in the town and the tourism industry was in need of emergency health services for those who came to practice winter sports and suffered injuries. With the strong opposition of the community and walk outs organized in the cold winter days by a group of pregnant women and their significant others, as well by other committed members of the town, the hospital authorities put a theatre-like-play in which they created the illusion of trying to hire competent staff from other hospitals in the province to help restabilising the deliveries of babies and they ended on hiring nurses from abroad.
    I know from first hand that it was only a theatre-like-play because I knew of many highly qualified obstetrical nurses at the Peter Lougheed Centre that sign up the list to be considered to go and work in Banff who were never contacted not even for a job interview. There were no grounds to disqualify them that way.
    The way all the events have developed from long ago (first, with the excuse of not enough staff, now the excuse of the decrease of births in Banff and the need to centralize the service), the lack of information to the community affected and the discussion groups with invitation-only members are only convenient for Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, but for much they are unfair to an already thriving community which is a great place to live and to raise a family. The community of Banff will lose its vibrancy once the maternity services are removed!
    If your kind heart agrees with the above exposed, it would be greatly appreciated you could show your support!
    Thank you!

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