Woman who alleges B.C. hospital staff turned her away before she delivered stillborn baby tells her story
VANCOUVER -- With her mom by her side and clutching a yellow and red teddy bear, Sarah Morrison’s grief spills out.
“This is a gift we bought our baby,” she explains through sobs.
The Kitimat, B.C., woman never had the chance to give her daughter that gift.
Morrison says she was two weeks past her due date when contractions started in late January. She had little pre-natal care, but says everything seemed fine with her pregnancy. She went to Kitimat General Hospital, where she says a nurse checked her baby’s pulse. Then a doctor came in.
“He said he couldn’t do anything for us, that we should’ve gone to Terrace," Morrison said in an emotional interview with APTN.
Morrison, who was expecting her first child, says she didn't understand why. She and her partner then called an ambulance, but she says they were taken back to the same hospital as paramedics told her they didn't have authorization to bring her to Terrace.
Morrison says that’s when she called her dad, who then drove her to Terrace, where things didn’t get better.
"They tried to find her heartbeat for a long time," she said.
The Haisla woman insists she wasn’t getting a lot of information about her baby.
"I begged them for a C-section but the doctor just said he didn't see the point."
At this point in the interview, her mom is heard wailing. After a while they continue the story.
Morrison says hours later, she gave birth – to a stillborn baby girl, Coral-Lee Edith Cheryl Luft. Her cause of death has not been released publicly.
"All they did was wash her off and hand her to me, they wouldn't resuscitate her," she said.
Morrison is now suing Northern Heath and several hospital staff, alleging negligence and racism. She filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this month.
None of the allegations has been tested or proven in court.
In a statement, Northern Health said: “Due to privacy reasons and as litigation has been commenced, Northern Health cannot speak to the specifics of the recent case in the news.”
The health authority says it will launch a review and seek input from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. She has published a study on the racism faced by Indigenous people when dealing with B.C.’s healthcare system.
“There is racism in the system – Indigenous people are getting their health care in the emergency departments, not in pre-natal or post-natal supports, which means this is ripe for a problem," Turpel-Lafond said.
Northern Health said it will file a response to the notice of claim by the deadline.
Morrison is gripped with heartache. She has a record of prints – feet and hands – of her baby. Yet that, too, causes pain.
"They didn’t care enough to put her feet and hands on the correct side," she said.
"You see the blatant difference between me and every other mother that’s given birth – their lives were cherished, while no one cared about mine or my baby’s.”