Monday November 13, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
The doctor shortage may create additional challenges for pregnant women who are ready to deliver.
Last month Island Health announced how they are taking steps at Victoria General Hospital (VGH) by having a scheduled Registered Midwife on-site at VGH to support patients presenting to hospital in labour or with other maternity related care needs.
A new In-House Registered Midwife (IHRM) position at Victoria General Hospital — announced by Island Health on October 6 — is part of the BC Health commitment to working with Island Health, midwives and physicians “to ensure that care plans are in place for unattached labouring patients, providing pregnant people with exceptional care close to home”, said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a news release.
A Registered Midwife will be scheduled on-site at VGH to support patients presenting to hospital in labour or with other maternity related care needs.
The IHRM will support patients and care providers in a number of ways, including:
- Assist in providing emergency assessments for patients whose community primary care provider is not immediately available.
- Provide assessments and support for clients who do not have a community primary care provider or are receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic (phone 250.727.4000, ext 16034).
- Conduct deliveries for clients receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic and patients transferred to VGH from other communities.
- Provide assistance to family practice physicians, when clinically appropriate, during periods of high patient volume.
- Provide in-hospital postpartum care for clients receiving care through VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic and arrange community-based postpartum care after discharge.
Stabilizing south island maternity services:
“We know there is much more work to be done in collaboration with our care providers, Registered Midwives, physician partners and the Ministry of Health to develop a sustainable maternity service that meets the needs of all pregnant patients on the south island,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair.
“The development of the IHRM position at VGH is an important step towards our long-term goals, and will benefit patients and care providers,” said Hollins.
“Funding for the position has been approved and Island Health is now working to develop staffing models and recruit more Registered Midwives, as needed, to support the role. An IHRM has been on-site for shifts since September 25 and the service will be built up in the weeks and months ahead, with a goal of having the IHRM at VGH 24/7. As of October 6 there had been 16 Registered Midwives signed on to support the position.
“Delivering high quality maternity care requires a multidisciplinary team working together to meet the needs of our patients,” said Dr. Hayley Bos, Perinatal Medical Director, Island Health. “The development of the IHRM role represents an important addition to our team and is an excellent example of collaboration that will benefit both our patients and care providers.”
“Registered Midwives are being increasingly recognized as key members of our multi-disciplinary perinatal care team, and for the important role they play in providing quality care for pregnant and birthing clients,” said Jill Pearman, Medical Director for Midwifery, Island Health.
“This new and innovative position presents an exciting opportunity to optimize our workforce, and to build a new team based service for our perinatal clients. I am grateful to the Midwives who have already stepped up to participate in this new way of providing midwifery care at VGH,” says Pearman.
The new IHRM position is one aspect of the ongoing work to stabilize south island maternity services in the short-term. As part of that direction in supportive health care, VGH’s Antenatal Care Clinic has supported more than 500 appointments and over 50 births since March 2023.
Island Health says they and their partners remain committed to the ongoing work of developing a robust, multi-disciplinary, team based care model for maternity services on the south island. “We are thankful to our care providers, midwives and physician partners for their collaboration and commitment to providing our perinatal patients with the best care possible,” it was stated by Island Health.
Midwives Association of BC weighs in:
The Midwives Association of BC (MABC) says “the development of the IHRM role at Victoria General Hospital is important in addressing the needs of families who require perinatal are during such a vulnerable momentous time in their lives”.
“Midwives are taking a leadership role in providing this care to South Island to address gaps in the system, namely a critical shortage of primary care providers,” says Adrienne Carruthers, Registered Midwife, Director, MABC.
We’re grateful to the midwives who continue to adapt and shift the way their work to meet the needs of the community,” said Carruthers in a statement received by Island Social Trends.
“We look forward to seeing how midwives in Victoria continue to work in interdisciplinary models to meet the needs of birthing people,” said Carruthers.
Births are down in BC:
The British Columbia population by natural replacement (births balancing out with deaths) will be net zero by 2030.
BC relies on immigration to increase the population of the province.
The BC population increased by about 250,000 people in the last two years (2021 and 2022) due to in-migration during the pandemic. That trend continues but has slowed down somewhat.
Other midwifery directions:
- As of August 2023, midwives in BC may now recommended infant feeding with infant formula, which will help low-income families get financial coverage for formula for infants up to 12 months of age. This expansion of authority came in August 2023; previously only doctors, nurses and dieticians could provide official recommendation for feeding with infant formula.
- Advising about the dangers of alcohol consumption in pregnancy: “As evidence-based primary care providers, registered midwives counsel their clients about alcohol consumption during pregnancy,” says a spokesperson for the Midwives Association of BC (MABC). “Midwives’ relational care model, fostered by continuity of care, allows midwives to have longer appointments with their clients where informed choice discussions are enabled,” said the MABC rep.
- BC Health is seeking to increase the number of midwives in BC. “We are taking meaningful action to retain, recruit and train more midwives,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in May 2023.
- A new In-House Registered Midwife (IHRM) position at Victoria General Hospital — announced by Island Health in October 2023 — is part of the BC Health commitment to working with Island Health, midwives and physicians “to ensure that care plans are in place for unattached labouring patients, providing pregnant people with exceptional care close to home”, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
===== RELATED ARTICLES by ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
- Island Health takes steps to stabilize and improve south island maternity services (October 6, 2023 – Island Health)
- Access to infant formula now available through midwives (September 13, 2023)
- Lifelong health consequences from alcohol during pregnancy (September 9, 2023)
- Midwives Day: recognizing value to women and families (May 5, 2023)
- BC midwives negotiating for flexible fair payment (April 7, 2023)
- Almost 70% of BC midwives practice team-based care (April 3, 2023)
- More midwifery training seats at UBC (February 17, 2023)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER & ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Among other qualifications, Ms Brooke holds a health sciences B.Sc. She is the proud mother of four now-grown children, all of whom were born at Victoria General Hospital!
Ms Brooke has been covering politics, business, education and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island (previously as West Shore Voice News, and before that both Sooke Voice News and MapleLine Magazine).
In 2023 Mary P Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award that recognizes a woman journalist contributing to her community through journalism.