A Stockholm, Sask., couple says they will be skeptical about taking their three children to Yorkton Regional Hospital after being turned away shortly before the birth of their now-one-month-old child.
Tara Luce, 28, says she started experiencing irregular contractions on Dec. 20 around 8 a.m. CST. It was a very cold day, with a wind chill value around –40.
She and her husband Mitchell made the 45-minute drive to Yorkton and arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m.
“They asked me to go shopping or go for supper, as everything seemed fine, but my contractions still were all over the place,” Tara said.
The two walked around the mall in Yorkton, rather than driving back to Stockholm, then returned to the hospital around 6 p.m.
“My contractions were six to eight minutes apart. When they checked me, I was only three centimetres [dilated], and was asked to go home or check into a hotel,” Tara said.
“My contractions were bringing me down to the knees at the hospital, so we went to my mom’s new townhouse [in Yorkton].”
Tara had a warm bath to relax as her contractions kept getting stronger.
“Then, I was just relaxing on the bedroom floor. And all of a sudden, I was in pain. I told my brother and my husband to call 911 now,” Tara said.
Minutes later, her water broke.
“It all happened so quickly.”
WATCH | Sask. woman recounts giving birth on the floor of a townhouse:
EMS was tied up on another call, so paramedics didn’t arrive before the birth.
“Even if EMS weren’t doing another call, I doubt they would have made it there as it happened all so fast,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he was scared, and shocked to see everything progressing so quickly. Thankfully, a 911 operator coached him through the steps — from delivering the baby to cutting the umbilical cord — and soon their son was born, right on the bedroom floor of the townhouse.
“I was shaking and remained in a shock for another day,” he said. “But it was a miracle.”
Tara said it was 6:43 p.m. when they left the hospital and baby Lincoln was born by 8 p.m.
“If the hospital had kept us for two or three hours longer, it would have made a huge difference, since they didn’t do that it was almost a nightmare,” Mitchell said.
“It was a crazy experience. A story to remember for our lifetime, that’s for sure.”
When EMS eventually came, they helped Tara deliver her placenta, then took the mother and child to the hospital for checkups.
The couple later got a $750 bill for the ambulance. They said the Ministry of Health later apologized for the treatment the couple got when they first went to the the hospital and waived half of the $750 bill.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement Wednesday that to ensure fairness to a family who experiences a birth or post-partum emergency, the Government of Saskatchewan implemented a mother or baby fee policy to establish consistency in how families are billed for an ambulance trip, effective March 31, 2014.
“The family will receive a bill for a single patient (mother) and the Ministry of Health will fund the cost of the second patient (baby),” the statement read.
“It is the Ministry of Health’s understanding that the family received an ambulance bill for both the mother and baby in error. Once discovered, the bill for the baby was redirected to the Ministry of Health for payment.”
The couple said it would have been good to receive a “simple apology” from the hospital’s maternity ward. Tara said she wants to choose a different hospital for her kids, but with limited emergency and health-care providers around, she does not have much choice.
They also said they don’t think they’ll be having any more children after this experience.
CBC reached out to the Yorkton Regional Hospital about whether there would be an apology, but staff declined to comment.
“People being turned away from hospitals, not only pregnant women, it just shows the crazy world it’s becoming. Things need to change,” Mitchell said.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said in an email statement Wednesday it cannot comment on specific cases or individuals due to privacy legislation.
“Every patient is assessed independently with consultation and guidance from our OBGYNs. Determining the next steps in a plan of care is based on a physician’s recommendation and medical assessments,” the statement read.