A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

A patient care review is underway at Kitimat General Hospital after allegations a pregnant woman did not receive proper care. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

Northern Health denies lawsuit claim that racism played a part in baby’s death

Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft allege negligence and ‘deliberate racial indifference’

Health officials in northern British Columbia deny allegations they mismanaged the treatment of a pregnant Indigenous woman or used racial stereotypes that affected her care and led to the stillbirth of her daughter.

Northern Health, Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and Kitimat General Hospital dispute allegations in a civil lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last month by Sarah Morrison and her partner Ronald Luft, alleging negligence and “deliberate racial indifference.”

In its response, the health authority says Morrison was past her due date and in the early stages of labour when she arrived at Kitimat’s hospital, which the health authority says is not equipped to handle complicated deliveries.

The statement says Luft “began yelling,” alleged Morrison was being refused service and then left the hospital with her when a doctor said an assessment was needed to see if the delivery could be done in Terrace.

The couple arrived at the Terrace hospital later that night but doctors could not find a heartbeat, the infant girl was stillborn and the statement of defence says nothing medical staff at either hospital “did or failed to do caused or contributed to the fetal demise.”

None of the allegations or statements have been proven in court and statements from five doctors named in the lawsuit have not yet been filed.

Morrison’s suit alleges her care at both hospitals was affected by racial stereotypes included in her medical records that noted she was in an abusive relationship, her parents were alcoholics and she was depressed.

Those details were part of a standard prenatal record completed by maternity patients, says the statement of defence.

The information was not collected at either hospital, it says, and all history gathered at Mills Memorial and Kitimat General was in line with professional requirements for care.

“Further, the health authority defendants say that at all material times, they and their employees acted appropriately, in accordance with standard practice and without racial stereotyping in their interactions and treatment of the plaintiffs.”

Morrison and Luft are suing for general and special damages, alleging the health authority, its two hospitals, one nurse and five doctors failed in numerous ways, including to adequately diagnose and treat the mother, assess the risks to the baby and to avoid using racial stereotypes in making recommendations for care.

Northern Health and the two hospitals are seeking a dismissal of all the claims and costs of the legal action.

A provincial government review of the case is continuing after it was ordered at the end of January when the allegations were made.

A statement issued last month by the Northern Health board said it endorses the review of racism allegations regarding health care at its hospitals.

The review will seek guidance from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s former representative for children and youth, who wrote a report about anti-Indigenous racism in the province’s health-care system.

READ MORE: Kitimat couple sue hospital, health authority after stillborn delivery

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Dease Lake Airport is receiving $11-million in upgrades funded by the province, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and mining companies. (British Columbia Aviation Council)
Major upgrades coming to Dease Lake Airport

Airport to receive $11-million from the province, regional district and mining companies

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read