Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
A mother is angry and confused after Tri-Lake Health Centre staff in Killarney refused to allow her four-day-old newborn inside with her, then sent her outdoors to breastfeed.
Staff also denied Liza-Jane Porter’s husband entry.
Meanwhile, other area hospitals — in Brandon and in Boissevain — offered a more agreeable policy, and told her they would not separate a breastfeeding newborn from their mother and her husband could attend with her as a support person.
Prairie Mountain Health declined to comment on this case, with chief executive officer Penny Gilson noting by email that they do "not comment on individual client circumstances in the media."
Liza-Jane gave birth to Ivy-Lea by C-section on July 13. A few days later, on July 16, she experienced problems, called Health Links and was told she needed to be seen.
"We packed up the little one because I had to take her with me," Liza-Jane said.
Her husband, Dustin Porter, dropped her off at the front door of the hospital so she wouldn’t have to walk across the parking lot in extreme pain. He parked the car, then headed in with Ivy-Lea to join his wife.
Staff turned both Dustin and Ivy-Lea away.
Liza-Jane had the nurse come into the room where she waited, and explained her breast was sore and a lump was beginning to form. She told the nurse she had to feed her daughter.
"I need her in here," Liza-Jane told the nurse.
She says she was denied again. She sat in her room crying. After her blood was taken, she once again stated she had to feed Ivy-Lea. Staff put her into a wheelchair and a nurse pushed her outside.
"We sat outside. I was ticked off. Here I am sitting outside feeding my kid. The mosquitoes are out. The sun’s going down. I’m pretty upset. My husband is upset," Liza-Jane said.
"I’m struggling with breastfeeding as it is because she’s still new and not latching quite the right way."
Liza-Jane said a nurse’s aide came out to ask if she was done. She allegedly attempted to make Liza-Jane cover her breast because of the care home next door. Her breast was uncovered so she could better help her baby get used to breastfeeding.
She also claims the nurse’s aide also said: "I hope she doesn’t get sick."
Frustrating them further, the couple say they witnessed a nurse come out from the hospital, hug, talk and visit with a small group of people outdoors, then head back into the hospital.
"(My husband) was absolutely floored that my kid can’t come to me but this nurse is coming out on her break and hugging and touching her family, and going inside. That nurse was actually the one who administered my drugs that night."
And, to top it all off, the newborn was scheduled for blood work at the same hospital the very next morning.
"I did let the nurses know. You won’t let her in tonight, but we’re coming back tomorrow at 11 a.m. for her blood work. So how does she do blood work? Do we have to do this outside? Does the public health nurse come outside?"
Liza-Jane said while at the hospital on July 17, the care team manager apologized and, among other statements, said it was for Ivy-Lea’s protection. The manager also allegedly asked why she didn’t breastfeed in her car.
"Not the point. Not the point. I said, I’ve got a Jeep. It’s a small Jeep. I’ve got a car seat in the middle of the back seat. I can barely walk. It takes me multiple minutes to get in and out of my car because I’m in so much pain. And you want me to wiggle my butt into my car and breastfeed my kid?" Liza-Jane said.
"Not the point."
Liza-Jane said that manager also contacted the Killarney Mb. Community Chat Facebook group admin and demanded her husband’s post about the incident be removed. The post was removed.
Since she hadn’t overnighted at the hospital July 16, primarily because she could not keep her infant with her, Liza-Jane still required care Friday. She was admitted to Brandon Regional Health Centre’s emergency department, even as her daughter underwent treatment for newborn jaundice in another area of that hospital. They were well treated and well cared for.
Area resident Brenda Mitchell heard about the couple’s ordeal and shared similar outrage to that expressed by several people on social media.
She told The Brandon Sun she would not normally speak out, "but it really upset me."
"I have been to that hospital recently for blood work. No screening nor hand sanitizing at the door but waiting to be let in," she said in an email.
"I wore a mask but not sure it was required. Meanwhile, a person visiting a family member breezed in with no mask nor any visible precautions taken. If they are selective with the rules, surely this family was treated with unreasonable cruelty."
Liza-Jane has lodged a complaint on Prairie Mountain Health’s patient-relations line. The health authority’s website states a reply could take up to five days. As of Tuesday afternoon, she had not yet received a response.
The Sun asked the health authority to describe what COVID-19 protocols exist related to the matters in this story and what training hospital staff receive to ensure protocols are carried out similarly at all locations. The Sun also asked if it is usual for hospital management to interfere with people’s right to share their experiences.
"Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) follows all of the provincial Infection Prevention and Control protocols, available on the Shared Health website. All staff are regularly reminded to keep updated on the protocols and managers regularly reinforce this — sometimes the guidelines are subject to interpretation and judgment of the providers (depending on the circumstances at the time)," Gilson said.
"We are however, further investigating this situation and will follow up directly with the client and family as needed."
» Michele LeTourneau covers Indigenous matters for The Brandon Sun under the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that supports the creation of original civic journalism.
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