A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

Northern Health denies lawsuit claim that racism played a part in baby’s death

Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft allege negligence and ‘deliberate racial indifference’

Health officials in northern British Columbia deny allegations they mismanaged the treatment of a pregnant Indigenous woman or used racial stereotypes that affected her care and led to the stillbirth of her daughter.

Northern Health, Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and Kitimat General Hospital dispute allegations in a civil lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last month by Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft, alleging negligence and “deliberate racial indifference.”

In its response, the health authority says Morrison was past her due date and in the early stages of labour when she arrived at Kitimat’s hospital, which the health authority says is not equipped to handle complicated deliveries.

The statement says Luft “began yelling,” alleged Morrison was being refused service and then left the hospital with her when a doctor said an assessment was needed to see if the delivery could be done in Terrace.

The couple arrived at the Terrace hospital later that night but doctors could not find a heartbeat, the infant girl was stillborn and the statement of defence says nothing medical staff at either hospital “did or failed to do caused or contributed to the fetal demise.”

None of the allegations or statements have been proven in court and statements from five doctors named in the lawsuit have not yet been filed.

Morrison’s suit alleges her care at both hospitals was affected by racial stereotypes included in her medical records that noted she was in an abusive relationship, her parents were alcoholics and she was depressed.

Those details were part of a standard prenatal record completed by maternity patients, says the statement of defence.

The information was not collected at either hospital, it says, and all history gathered at Mills Memorial and Kitimat General was in line with professional requirements for care.

“Further, the health authority defendants say that at all material times, they and their employees acted appropriately, in accordance with standard practice and without racial stereotyping in their interactions and treatment of the plaintiffs.”

Morrison and Luft are suing for general and special damages, alleging the health authority, its two hospitals, one nurse and five doctors failed in numerous ways, including to adequately diagnose and treat the mother, assess the risks to the baby and to avoid using racial stereotypes in making recommendations for care.

Northern Health and the two hospitals are seeking a dismissal of all the claims and costs of the legal action.

A provincial government review of the case is continuing after it was ordered at the end of January when the allegations were made.

A statement issued last month by the Northern Health board said it endorses the review of racism allegations regarding health care at its hospitals.

The review will seek guidance from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s former representative for children and youth, who wrote a report about anti-Indigenous racism in the province’s health-care system.

READ MORE: Kitimat couple sue hospital, health authority after stillborn delivery

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

Chrystina Barnard, owner of Lucky’s Pet Supply, has made it her mission to visit as many patios in Penticton as a way to promote restaurants. Here she is enjoying an eggs benny with her best fur friend at Loki’s Garage in Penticton. (Facebook)
Penticton foodie commits to 19-day patio crawl to promote local restaurants

The small business owner wanted to help out eateries hurt by the new restrictions

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Penticton fire truck
Residents evacuated after apartment fire in Penticton

The fire started in an apartment on Government Street Saturday night

Lori Jantz snapped this picture of a fight between a bald eagle and an osprey above Osoyoos Lake on Friday. (Lori Jantz photo)
Battle in the sky erupts above South Okanagan lake

Bald eagle and osprey fight mid-air in Osoyoos

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Most Read