A doctor in Banff says shutting down obstetrics care at Mineral Springs Hospital is the first step to losing the community aspect of the hospital.

Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, which operates the hospital, have decided to move all baby deliveries to the hospital in Canmore starting in March 2013.

Dr. Jane Fowke is currently the only doctor delivering babies in Banff. 


Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff will shut down obstetrics care in March 2013. (Google Street View)

"Even though you think, 'Oh, it's not very far down the road,' by the time I get there and back and do things, it's often a couple of hours," she said.

"And with obstetrics, it's not as though you go there, deliver the baby and come back. Sometimes it's a few visits and also sometimes it's complications."

Fewer than 50 babies will be delivered this year in Banff; in Canmore it's closer to 300 and it already offers more advanced obsetric services.

"That has access to an obstetrician/gynecologist, two pediatricians. They have the supports in Canmore — they have that strength in obstetrics — and this a good thing for moms and babes in the Bow Valley," said Cindy Mulherin, executive director of Covenant Health. 

In return, the hospital in Banff will take on all plastic and vascular surgeries in March 2013.

Doctor calls for support

Dr. Fowke hopes to raise community support to fight the decision.

"It's going to be the demise of the community hospital in Banff."

She says obstetrics care is a basic service and people are already delivering at home without a doctor because they don't want to go to the hospital.

This is the second time deliveries have been shut down at Mineral Springs Hospital.

In 2009, it had to close obstetrics for five months due to a staff shortage.