British Columbia

Williams Lake nurses in accelerated training so hospital's maternity ward can reopen

Five Williams Lake nurses are in Kamloops undergoing accelerated training in perinatal care so that maternity services can resume at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital. The hospital had to suspend obstetrical services at the end of February due to a critical shortage of maternity nurses.

The hospital's maternity services have been suspended since late February

The nurses in the perinatal course in Kamloops are eager to return to Williams Lake so pregnant mothers don't have to travel so far for maternity care. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Five Williams Lake nurses are in Kamloops undergoing accelerated training in perinatal care so that maternity services can resume at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

The hospital had to suspend obstetrical services at the end of February due to a critical shortage of maternity nurses. Since then, expectant mothers have had to travel to Kamloops, Prince George and other cities to have their babies delivered. 

The nurses in the accelerated training course have being performing simulations in the simulation centre in Kamloops to learn about perinatal care. (Jennifer Norwell/CBC)

"Perinatal is normally a specialty," said Michelle Delany, education co-ordinator for the Maternal Newborn Child and Youth Network. Perinatal care focuses on the time right before and after birth. 

"What we really wanted to do was ensure that we could get their training in a compressed time frame not focusing on the specialty, but focusing on competencies making sure that they're feeling comfortable in their home community to deliver babies."

Accelerated training

The accelerated training course is 10 weeks long. The first part was online, and now Delany is teaching hands-on skills and doing simulations at the hospital in Kamloops. 

"I think it's going to really boost the maternity team in Williams Lake. It will also help them get the education that they need so that they're comfortable going into the clinical practice setting," Delany told Daybreak Kamloops' Jenifer Norwell. 

Michelle Delany is one of the leaders teaching the accelerated training course in Kamloops. She hopes the course gives nurses the tools they need to help deliver babies in Williams lake. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

The hospital needs more than five nurses, However, more trained nurses will be coming and recruitment efforts are underway, said Delany.

Exciting opportunity, says nurse

Tiova Bimhra previously worked as a nurse on the coast but has recently joined Interior Health to work in Williams Lake.

"This opportunity came up rather quickly for me and it's really exciting to be a part of it and really use my experience," said Bimhra.

"Moving into perinatal is an adventure, and I have a lot of respect for the team and Interior Health that put this program together very quickly, because we're all parents, we all understand we want to be close to home when we're delivering babies, and we want to provide the best care and the best practices," said Bimhra. 

Hospital an asset in Williams Lake

Nurse Kelsey Hollett said it has always been her intention to work in Williams Lake because she grew up there and loves the community.

The suspension of maternity care has been difficult. The hospital is one of Williams Lake's largest assets, she said.

"I think I've just seen with the nurses that I work with, they get disheartened when they're not able to adequately support our moms," said Hollett.

"So, for me to be able to go in there and help them means the world ... that we'll all be able to do our job and support these moms, because that's really what everybody wants."

A date for when maternity care services will resume at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital has not yet been announced.

Five nurses from Williams Lake are in Kamloops for training to re-open the maternity ward at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. 5:58

With files from Jenifer Norwell and Daybreak Kamloops

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