Peace Arch Hospital's maternity ward will remain open for parents who have pre-existing plans to deliver their baby at the hospital, according to announcement from Fraser Health.
The hospital's maternity ward was initially scheduled to close on January 28, with deliveries being re-routed to Langley Memorial Hospital following staffing issues.
But Fraser Health says pediatric staff at Peace Arch Hospital and other partners have committed to a new staffing schedule that will allow the ward to stay open.
"All partners are committed to working toward safe maternity services at Peace Arch Hospital with no disruption while Fraser Health continues its recruitment efforts," the health authority said Thursday in a statement.
Fraser Health previously said the ward would close indefinitely because of an "unexpected leave" at the facility.
The health authority warns there could still be sporadic single-day diversions as it continues to recruits new staff.
Right now, there are seven pediatricians working out of the hospital's maternity ward, however, they don't all work full-time. Fraser Health says the ward needs the equivalent of five full-time pediatricians.
Alternative payment model
Peace Arch Hospital has long faced staffing shortages on its maternity ward.
Fraser Health says it has been working to recruit more pediatricians at Peace Arch Hospital for the past two years.
In July, maternity patients were diverted from the hospital for two weeks due to a shortage of available pediatricians.
But now, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, it says it has developed an alternative payment model to support the recruitment of new pediatricians.
"We will continue to aggressively recruit new pediatricians to Peace Arch Hospital," said Dr. Victoria Lee, president of Fraser Health.
Lee said maternity wards often use a volume-based payment model, but noted that may discourage some physicians from working at smaller wards, like Peace Arch. Under the new model, she said physicians will be paid hourly.
Fraser Health has also expanded services at the maternity ward to support a pediatric rapid assessment clinic.
"These actions underscore and reaffirm our commitment to maternity and pediatric services at Peace Arch," said Lee.
Community rallies for action
In the weeks leading up to Thursday's reversal, there were growing calls from the community and hospital staff for action by Fraser Health.
The head of the Peace Arch maternity clinic, Dr. Semion Strovski, warned the closure would mean parents would not have their babies delivered by their care provider, with whom they have developed a relationship.
He also added that Langley Memorial Hospital is a 30-minute drive from Peace Arch Memorial, in a different city.
Earlier Thursday, dozens of White Rock community members gathered outside Peace Arch Hospital, calling for the maternity ward to remain open.
Among the group were expectant mothers, hospital donors and even city officials.
Many protesters were holding signs in support of the hospital reading, "Honk if you support PAH," "I was born here," and "It's time to deliver, Fraser Health."