Surrey Memorial quietly ends care for premature babies
Four months after Surrey Memorial Hospital announced that it would begin caring for premature babies, the service has been discontinued without warning, angering a community that fundraised to support it.
The hospital opened four incubators to care for babies born after less than 30 weeks of gestation in February. Last month, the Level 3 beds were downgraded, and the services transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.
Surrey Coun. Mary Martin, who sits on the board for Surrey Memorial, told CTV News she was blindsided by the news.
"Surrey has got the highest rate of newborns, at Surrey Memorial Hospital, within the province," she said. "I'm dumbfounded."
Surrey residents helped fundraise to support the special beds.
"Our citizens fundraised over $1 million for these beautiful incubators that are specialized for Level 3 babies…and now they're saying, ‘Why are they being removed?'" Martin said.
The South Asian radio station RedFM broke the story, and has been inundated with calls from members of a frustrated public.
"They trusted Fraser Health Authority, and some people said that we feel like we've been backstabbed, because they've been reassuring the community time and again: ‘Hell or high waters, we will keep it here,' and now they have moved it,'" radio host Harjinder Thind told CTV News.
A media representative for Fraser Health told CTV News by phone that the beds were taken away because there are not enough neonatal doctors to service them.
According to a July 5 press release: "The further implementation of the tertiary perinatal transition project was paused due to some unresolved physician coverage issues."
The statement went on to say that the program has moved to Royal Columbian until the issue is resolved.
With a report from British Columbia's Julia Foy