An expectant mother in Campbellton says she’s concerned she’ll be forced to drive an hour away to give birth.
“You’re supposed to be excited and looking forward to this day,” Katherine Boutin says, as she prepares to possibly travel when she goes into labour. “Now … I’m scared for it to happen because I don’t know where it’s going to happen.”
Boutin, 30 weeks pregnant, is expecting to give birth to a baby boy.
The Vitalité Health Network called it “extreme patient overload” that forced the closure of several services at the Campbellton Regional Hospital in late November.
Delivery services at the hospital are expected to reopen Monday, but Boutin is concerned about how long that will last.
“Is it going to be short-term or long-term?” she asks. “We just don’t know what’s going on with this hospital and I find it ridiculous.”
For Boutin and other expectant mothers who would go into labour if the service remains closed, they would be forced to drive an hour to Bathurst, or further to Edmundston.
Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin, Campbellton’s mayor, says “it’s just not acceptable.”
“It’s the unavailability,” she says. “When our people need something, we’re an hour away.”
Management of the hospital falls under the health network.
“Vitalité is working diligently in returning to the level of services that we can,” Ted Flemming, New Brunswick’s health minister, tells Global News. “But you have to remember, at this time of year, there’s a higher demand for vacations. It’s Christmas, there’s a number of different things like that.”
But Flemming acknowledges the provincial government’s important role.
“It’s giving them the resources that they need, making sure that they’re properly funded.”
Boutin suggests there are people coming from neighbouring Quebec to the Campbellton hospital, contributing to the overflow.
“I don’t want to sound mean,” Boutin says. “But… then it leaves us with nowhere to go. Because (the hospital is) overcrowded by either Quebec residents or elderly people that have no place to go in nursing homes either.”
Anglehart-Paulin has additional concerns, indicating some medical staff get transferred around the region.
“I know that it comes down to staff,” she says. “It’s a matter of managing them better. Why is my pediatrician replacing in Edmundston?”
Boutin is trying to prepare herself for the birth, no matter what that means.
“It’s not like I need a hospital bag ready,” she says. “Now, I need to make sure I have towels, a pair of scissors and all this fun stuff in case I end up delivering on the side of the road.”
Gilles Lanteigne, Vitalité’s president and CEO, hasn’t been available for an interview this week. However, in a statement released Dec. 3 he said “things are gradually improving.”