A very sad day March 25th. Loss of community Hospital. Loss of essential services. Vulnerable families all alone. Where is our
government when we need them?
Here is a reply back from the Federal Health Minister regarding our concerns. A reply is going back to him stating that we have tried this route and we have had no communication.
A potential meeting is being arranged with AHS/Covenant heath and the HATCH PATCH AND DISPATCH GROUP. Keep up the pressure on Ron Casey.
Please keep writing as many letters as possible to the Provincial Health Minister.
I am writing to express my extreme concern and displeasure over the closure of the Banff Hospital Obstetric Service.
In these days of diminishing supply of obstetrical services, especially in rural areas, it seems anathema that the government would unilaterally reduce availability of such services. I recognize that many centers have had the misfortune to lose obstetrical services because they have been unable to attract and maintain professionals with the necessary skillset; but for Government to close a center where both physician and nursing staff are available, interested, and eminently competent flies in the face of responsible management!
Centers such as Banff that are in fact able to maintain a safe, viable obstetric service with such limited resources should be lauded for their commitment, and held up as a model. They are an example to the many other small centers who’s expecting patients might also wish for local care. While it may be economically practical to centralize some of Alberta’s health services, others (and especially Obstetrics) are best provided close to home.
I would urge you to reconsider this decision and allow the expecting mothers of Banff to continue to receive safe and excellent care from the dedicated professionals at Mineral Springs Hospital.
Dr. G. D. Prince
Family Medicine Maternity Clinic
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.