This is an open letter to the B.C. Health Minister Michael de Jong.
My name is Meaghan Draus, and I live in Summerland, B.C. I would like to share with you my recent lifestyle changes as I am aware that my situation is all too familiar in this region.
I recently completed my schooling with Okanagan College, Penticton. My husband works full-time with a construction and engineering company out of Penticton. In February 2011, we were delighted to learn we were expecting our very first baby and thrilled to discover, soon after, we were expecting twins. We have a fantastic obstetrician in Penticton with whom I have built a rapport and have full confidence in when labour and delivery roll around in the next few weeks. I have been receiving excellent medical attention during regular scheduled visits from the caring staff at Penticton hospital.
My husband and I are very keen on raising our family in the Summerland area and have researched local schools, clubs and community amenities available to us as our little boys grow. However, we did overlook researching the maternity unit at the Penticton hospital. It is classified as a Level 1 nursery indicating it is not equipped or staffed to handle birth complications such as a premature delivery. What does this mean for me and my family? Although I am 24 and very healthy, I will be sent off to another hospital in another region if my labour begins before my full term. Possibly Kamloops, possibly Victoria. No one can say at this time — it could be hours away from my partner, medical support team, family and friends.
I am currently confined to bed rest to alleviate stress and the possibility of early labour. I can assure you it is very stressful sitting in bed, contemplating the emotional and financial burden for my family if I am shipped off to another region to a hospital equipped to deliver my babies.
This region is working hard to attract young families. I urge you Mr. de Jong to consider the long-term positive effects of providing a well-equipped, adequately staffed, updated nursery at Penticton Regional Hospital. Everyone wins when we act on what is best for our children.
Meaghan Draus, Baby A and Baby B,