Aimee Renard and fiancé Jay Goleski with their baby boy, Jaxyn, at the Brandon Regional Health Centre on Sunday. Renard, who lives in Melita, gave birth in a pickup truck on the side of a highway while heading to Brandon early Sunday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
A breakdown in hospital protocol led to a Westman woman giving birth on the side of the road, according to Health Minister Erin Selby.
On Sunday, Aimee Renard and her fiancé Jay Goleski called the Hamiota District Health Centre after Renard’s water broke.
After speaking with a nurse on the phone, 20-year-old Renard was told to go to Brandon for care. It was then, according to Selby, that the couple should have been told to come into the closest hospital for a thorough assesment.
"This is unacceptable," Selby said. "If they are (in labour), then in that case they would be put in an ambulance and taken to the nearest obstetrics unit."
Instead, the couple welcomed their first son, Jaxyn, into the world on a cold, desolate highway on the way to Brandon.
While the birth was a success — partly facilitated by Goleski’s experience pulling calves on the farm — it was far from ideal, especially considering any complication had a potential dire consequence.
"It’s good to know that everything turned out good in this case, but I’m sure it was a very difficult time and probably a little bit scary for these folks," Selby said. "It’s not the way it should have happened and it’s not acceptable."
It’s the second recent roadside birth in Westman. Almost exactly one year ago, Dec. 13, 2012, Rachel and Eric Driedger were forced to give birth on the side of the road after a doctor assessed her in Russell and sent her to Yorkton, Sask.
That roadside gift, Maisie, ended up being the catalyst for a new policy in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
The new policy ensured all women presenting in labour would be provided ambulance service to a centre with obstetrics.
One year later and it’s the same excuses for another failure in the system, according to Progressive Conservative health critic Myrna Driedger.
"The government said they would address the problem and they have dropped the ball and obviously didn’t treat it as a priority," she said.
"Broken promises and mismanagement of issues like these are putting moms and babies at risk."
Both births came in sub -20 C temperatures.
"Considering the temperature and how bitterly cold it was it makes it even worse and it’s unacceptable care," Driedger said.
"We’re hearing from a lot of people from rural Manitoba that they’re not getting the quality of care that they have been promised."
Pat Cockburn, senior adviser for acute care and nursing for PMH, apologized to Renard and Goleski for the incident.
"It’s not something that we want to see," she said.
Immediate correspondence has been sent to all the hospitals in the region, she said, to ensure that everyone is aware of the policy.
Cockburn said the circumstances of this individual case are unique because the mother never physically presented at the hospital, something that will be addressed in the language of the policy.
"We’ll broaden it so for anyone that phones in, the advice will be to come to the closest available emergency room for an assessment and then the rest will just fall into place," Cockburn said.
"We’re certainly sorry for any undue stress this family went through."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 17, 2013