Terrace Women’s Wellness Group recognized with 2020 BC Rural Health Award

RCCbc is pleased to announce that the Terrace Women’s Wellness Group – which provides support for women’s reproductive health in BC’s Pacific Northwest – is the recipient of the 2020 Award of Excellence for Team-based Rural Maternity Care. This interprofessional team consists of Ob/Gyns, Drs. Dawid Janse van Rensburg and Kirsti Ziola, family physicians Drs. Carla Gemeinhardt, Amy Passmore, and Jacobus Strydom, and registered midwife Bethany Nash.   

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group members, clockwise from top left: Dr. Carla Gemeinhardt, Registered Midwife Bethany Nash, Dr. Amy Passmore, MOA Terri Soucie, and Dr. Jaco Strydom. Missing: Dr. Dawid Janse van Rensberg and Dr. Kirsti Ziola

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group was formed five years ago by local obstetrical service providers to address a gap observed in the longitudinal care of women experiencing high risk pregnancies. These providers noticed that when an expectant mother and her healthcare provider worked together to actively manage the conditions contributing to increased risk in the pregnancy, her actual labour tended to be lower risk. However, due to the on-call nature of obstetrics, a patient isn’t guaranteed to have her usual provider during her delivery. “It’s frustrating for healthcare providers to see a high risk patient for the first time during labour,” says Dr. Strydom, pointing that such a situation would likely be frustrating for the patient as well, “In response, this group of local obstetrical providers scheduled a fixed team planning meeting for Monday mornings [for the community’s maternity providers.]” This weekly check-in allows the group to review what happened in the delivery room on the weekend, and to be aware of which patients may need care over the next two week period. The meeting also provides an opportunity for group learning with the team frequently reviewing new protocols in labour, addressing changes in processes, and receiving updates on available supplies for vaginal and surgical births. 

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group may have initially started to address the community’s complex maternity cases, but the scope of the group has since evolved to address broader range of primary care concerns, such as follow up investigation of abnormal pap smears, and facilitating a wide range of first trimester healthcare procedures, including termination services. Registered Midwife Bethany Nash joined the call group 18 months ago and plays an important role, providing primary care deliveries as well as six weeks of post-partum care for selected patients, including unattached patients. The team has become a referral centre for women from the smaller communities surrounding Terrace – Kitimat, Kitwanga, and Hazelton, with occasional cases traveling in from the Nass Valley and Smithers as well. The group is truly an inspirational model for team-based provision of rural maternity care in British Columbia. 

The award ceremony to recognize the Terrace Women’s Wellness group – along with other BC Rural Health Award recipients – will take place at the 2021 BC Rural Health Conference currently scheduled for May 2021 in Penticton. RCCbc looks forward to honouring this team in front of a gathering of their peers and colleagues. 

The BC Rural Health Awards recognizes healthcare providers, interprofessional teams, and rural communities who actively strive to provide excellent healthcare services to their rural BC community. There are three categories of recognition: the Rural BC Community Award, which recognizes healthcare collaborators and providers working together to provide excellent care; a unique themed award – in 2020, this theme is Team-based Rural Maternity Care; and, the Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement, which recognizes rural physicians who has dedicated his/her/their career to serving one or more rural communities and has significantly impacted and/or influenced rural health provincially, nationally and/or internationally.  

RCCbc thanks everyone who put forth a nomination for the 2020 BC Rural Health Awards. We encourage you to think about who you would like to nominate for recognition in 2021 – new criteria will be posted and Award nomination forms will be available in Fall/Winter 2020.