norgate-060608

Jennifer Norgate has complained that she had a stillborn baby in a hotel bathroom, after being told there was no bed for her at a Cranbrook, B.C., hospital. ((CBC))

Health officials are investigating a B.C. woman's claim that she delivered a stillborn child in a hotel room after beingdenied admission to hospital.

Jennifer Norgate, a mother of three from Elkford, B.C., delivered the stillborn baby June 1 at a hotel in Cranbrook.

She went into labour in the hospital the morning after she says she was turned away from East Kootenay Regional Hospital because there were no beds.

Norgate had gone to the hospital May 30 after an ultrasound performed in Calgary revealed that the baby had no heartbeat.

"We needed to be induced in order for the baby to come out," Norgate said. "I was told to take some medication and sent off to Cranbrook."

However, when Norgate and her husband arrived at the B.C. hospital, she says she was told that there were no beds available.

Rather than wait in the emergency room, the Norgates went to a hotel for the night.

Early the next morning, Norgate began bleeding. In a matter of minutes, the stillborn baby was delivered in their hotel room's bathroom.

Woman's case an 'accident': medical head

Dr. Joe Kotlarz, the medical director of East Kootenay Health Service Area, said it is standard practice to send women away from hospital while they wait for a stillbirth because the process is often slow.

Kotlarz described Norgate's experience as "an anomaly."

"Frankly, it can almost be looked at like an accident," he said.

The hospital said it is sorry for the Norgates' ordeal, but insists the couple was not told that a bed was not available.

Carl Norgate said they were offered a bed in the emergency room, but were told they would have to vacate it if an emergency case arose.

Norgate sent letters complaining about her treatment to Premier Gordon Campbell's office, and to Health Minister George Abbott.

Bill Bennett, the MLA from East Kootenay, and B.C.'s Interior Health Authority have agreed to look into her case.

The East Kootenay hospital is in the middle of a $31-million upgrading to make ita regional referral facility.