1A Community Symposium: Establishing building blocks to sustain rural maternity care

Written by Regina Chan, Project Assistant

On Friday, June 15th, the Centre for Rural Health Research held the 1A Community Symposium. This day-long symposium brought together the five rural communities in British Columbia who provide local maternity care in the absence of local C-section services. These communities are Port McNeill, Hazelton, Haida Gwaii, Salt Spring, and Invermere. With funding from the Joint Standing Committee on rural issues through the Rural Coordination Center of BC, we invited a midwife, physician, nurse and administrator from each of the five communities. Representatives from The Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders also attended. The objective for the day was to identify and consolidate system supports needed across all five communities to support sustainable rural maternity care.

As we are studying the North of Vancouver Island and establishing Building Blocks to sustain local maternity services, we heard from four other communities in BC also offering maternity services without access to local c-section. We conducted pre-symposium interviews with each of the five communities’ care providers and administrators to understand their model of care and common challenges. With this new shared understanding, the symposium focused on solutions for sustainability for the five sites.

The next steps to move towards the goal of sustaining maternity services is to bring the prioritized requirements for sustainable care as identified by the communities to discussion with the Ministry of Health, Health Authorities and relevant professional associations. This work is built on the foundation of over 15 years of primary research in BC which has found the safety of low-resource rural maternity services without access to local cesarean section and strong community desire for local maternity care. Another blog post will be coming next week to discuss how all the communities connected together to instill hope in each other to strive for change in the future.