A (due) date to remember: How a foundation has made deliveries in Prince George safer

Enbridge is enhancing health-care services by investing in facilities across British Columbia

What’s the difference between a baby delivery and a hip replacement surgery? A hip replacement is usually scheduled.

Following a trend of postponed elective surgeries due to urgent newborn deliveries, British Columbia’s Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation recently funded an additional operating room (OR) to the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) in Prince George, BC, dedicated solely to maternal care.

“It’s always ideal to bring a baby into the world in the best possible circumstance,” says Judy Neiser, CEO of the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation.

“It would be great if deliveries could be scheduled through the existing OR timetable, but—as well all know—that’s often not how a live birth works.”

Newborn deliveries may be standard or high risk, in the case of mothers with high blood pressure, obesity, pre-existing health conditions and more. Neiser says the uncertainty of surgical needs is what led to the request by Northern Health for the foundation to fund a ninth operating room that is now devoted to expecting mothers 24/7.

“We felt that our donors would support the concept of not only bringing babies safely into the world and giving families peace of mind, but also no longer having to constantly cancel and reschedule surgery for patients in the community,” says Neiser.

Now, families and doctors alike can celebrate bringing in a new bundle of joy to the world without the stress of where they will be delivered.

“We know patients put lives and jobs on hold for a surgery—it’s certainly an inconvenience to have their appointment bumped,” says Neiser.

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Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities near our projects and operations. In 2018, we invested $383,400 in community-strengthening initiatives across the province, and our recent donations to BC health-care projects includes:

Spirit of the North’s mandate is to champion for exceptional health-care facilities in northern BC with proper equipment and education. UHNBC’s previously capacity was eight ORs for a service delivery area of over 300,000 people spread across 600,000 square kilometers in BC.

Neiser says she works with donors in the North to focus on securing the best possible diagnostic and treatment available through the purchase of new and innovative equipment and services that focus on reducing wait times, elevating patient comfort, and curbing travel.

“By supplying the necessary equipment needed to treat an unhealthy patient in the north, we are also able to attract and retain the physicians and specialists needed for the region,” she says.

UHNBC serves many remote areas—with not all communities capable of handling even basic, let alone high-risk, births.  The upgraded OR room relieves a burden for the region’s expecting mothers, who can be as far as a nine-hour drive away.

“With a project like this, the reach is far and the impact is deep. It’s changing the way health care in the North is delivered, and we are so excited that our donors have supported this request.”

(TOP PHOTO: This photo was taken during a live birth at UHNBC, and offers an idea of the infrastructure, equipment and staff resources required for the process. Photo courtesy Janice Gilbert, Shutterbug Shots.)