1-day closure at Upper River Valley Hospital sends pregnant women to other hospitals

A one-day closure of the obstetrics unit at the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville will force pregnant women to deliver either at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton or the Edmundston Regional Hospital.

Horizon Health said the unit will be closed from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday because there is no surgeon available who can perform emergency caesarean sections. 

Even if a pregnant woman feels she is low-risk and does not require a C-section, she will have to travel to the hospital in Fredericton or Edmundston for labour and other pregnancy-related issues.

"Emergency situations can quickly arise during childbirth," the release said. 

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Horizon Health said obstetrics nursing staff have contacted all expectant mothers who are 35 weeks pregnant or more. 

Patients who had surgery scheduled during the temporary closure have also been notified, so their surgery dates can be rescheduled.

"Horizon understands this change may be concerning to families that are expecting," said the release. "Please be assured all mothers and babies will receive safe and quality care at any Horizon facility."

This is the second time the obstetrics unit at the Waterville hospital was closed. There was no surgeon to cover the Upper River Valley Hospital for about three days at the end of October 2018.

The obstetrics unit at the Campbellton Regional Hospital was closed for a week in June. A nursing shortage closed the obstetrics unit at the Chaleaur Regional Hospital for months, while new staff were trained and others returned from sick leaves. 

Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph in Perth-Andover closed six of its beds in April because of a nursing shortage.