The family of a pregnant Indigenous woman who alleges she was turned away from a northern British Columbia hospital and later gave birth to a stillborn baby says a review of the incident must be made public.
Sarah Morrison has alleged she was denied maternity services at Kitimat General Hospital on Jan. 27 and had to travel to another facility 65 kilometres away in Terrace, where she delivered a stillborn infant.
Dustin Gaucher, Morrison’s uncle, says the results of a review by the Northern Health Authority must be released publicly to prevent it from “hiding the truth,” adding that no one in his family including Morrison has been contacted to assist with the probe.
Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the review shortly after Morrison’s family accused the Kitimat hospital of turning her away and alleged anti-Indigenous racism.
Northern Health says in a statement that the findings won’t be made public because provincial legislation prohibits release of results and recommendations from quality of care reviews.
A spokeswoman for the health authority says the legislation is meant to promote open discussion and full participation with health-care professionals in order to determine if any changes should be made to future practices.
Gaucher says if the review results are not released, little will come of it except his family will “relive our trauma.”
“This review is just that. The people out there want answers, but nobody gets any answers,” he said in an interview.
Morrison and her partner have filed a statement of claim in B.C. Supreme Court alleging the Northern Health authority, several doctors, Kitimat General Hospital and Mills Memorial Hospital used racial stereotypes and failed to provide emergency care.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and no statements of defence have been filed.
Northern Health said in a statement on Feb. 12 that it could not comment on the case for privacy reasons, but its board has endorsed a review of allegations of racism in health care at its hospitals.
“We do wish to express that the loss of a child is tragic and our hearts go out to the family.”
Its statement said 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.
Mills Memorial has said the health authority would respond on its behalf.
None of the others named in the lawsuit could be reached for comment.
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