Due to staffing a staffing shortage, pregnant patients may be diverted from Squamish General Hospital to another Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) hospital in July.
VCH said in a news release that patients who are in labour might be diverted to Lions Gate Hospital, Richmond Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital or B.C. Women’s Hospital, where "appropriate obstetrics oversight and care" is available.
"Due to a temporary gap in coverage, VCH is implementing this interim measure to ensure those accessing maternity services continue to receive quality care and treatment, wherever they are on their maternity journey. Our priority continues to be the wellbeing, health and safety of our patients, including babies delivered at our hospital sites," reads the release.
A VCH spokesperson said this diversion would be for "early July," but no end date was given.
On average, Squamish General Hospital provides care for one to two births per day — 350 annually.
"Our maternity unit is appropriately staffed to provide urgent care for people who may need to be assessed for a complication or those who think they might be in labour. People who are pregnant and require assessment, should contact their physician or midwife for support if they need it," said the spokesperson in a follow-up email sent July 2.
A regional Emergency Operations Centre will help with the diversion of patients to other facilities.
"We also recognize this operational adjustment may cause concern for those accessing maternity services and sincerely apologize to our patients and their families for any disruption," continues the release.
The health authority said it is "making every effort," to address the shortage.
"This includes targeted recruitment strategies and the redesign of staffing models, where appropriate."
If requiring urgent care, pregnant individuals should go to the nearest ER. If the person believes they are having complications, they should call 9-1-1 immediately, the release stated.
*Please note, this story has been modified since it was first posted. After the original story went to press, a VCH spokesperson said that the diversion will be for early July, not for the whole month. No end date for diversions was given. We also repeated "may" be diverted rather than "will be" in two lines to be more clear.
We updated the story again on July 2 when a spokesperson responded to follow-up questions.