MaBAL team helps rural nurses get comfortable with maternity skills

Nurses in 100 Mile House were able to learn new skills after taking part in a virtual simulation led by the MaBAL (Maternity and Newborn Advice Line) team. 

The unique opportunity was facilitated entirely virtually.  

Registered Midwife Tanya Momtazian, based in Nelson and a member of the MaBAL team, organized the event, and it was supported by Courtenay-based MaBAL Family Practitioner Dr. Sara Sandwith and Kelowna-based Pediatrician Dr. Alysha Feder-Mackenzie.  

Drs. Sandwith and Feder-Mackenzie, along with Momtazian, are all part of the wider Real-Time Virtual Support (RTVS) service for rural, remote and Indigenous communities.  In addition to MaBAL, the service runs an Emergency support pathway (RUDi) and a Pediatrician pathway (CHARLiE). 

The pilot simulation and education session was part of an ongoing effort to give rural healthcare workers who may deal with pregnancy and newborn cases more opportunities to connect with colleagues, ask questions and get extra support.  

While planned maternity services are no longer offered in 100 Mile, there are times when deliveries need to take place within the community because of advanced labour, inclement weather or other transport issues.  

Momtazian said: “One of our goals is to normalize the birth. A course that just goes over hemorrhage and resuscitation doesn’t help with a typical birth. For the vast majority you will not need resuscitation, so it’s also important to ease stress and anxiety.” 

Showing nurses in 100 Mile House the supports that are available in their community, including the maternity equipment, was one piece of the puzzle.  

But one of the most reassuring and well-received parts of the simulation, said Momtazian, was demonstrating a call to RTVS providers Drs. Sara Sandwith and Alysha Feder-Mackenzie.  

Momtazian said: “Delivery can be super stressful if you haven’t done one in a number of years. That’s why we were really reiterating getting support from Real-Time Virtual Support. We do not want anyone to feel anxious or that you need to figure this out on your own. So first and foremost, they appreciated that there was the support.”  

Tom Skinner, a Senior Project Coordinator at the Rural Coordination Centre of BC with the Rural Surgical and Obstetrics Networks (RSON) and RTVS, said the simulation was unique because it was facilitated entirely virtually, with three different stations being facilitated from Nelson, Courtenay and Kelowna simultaneously.  

What’s more is that it was hands-on. He said: “It wasn’t just a presentation, it wasn’t a lecture, it was a hands-on back and forth learning opportunity which was quite unique. If you’re in a Zoom room and you have 20 people on the line you may not have the chance to ask questions. But with this we could give people space to explore the equipment and ask anything they wanted.” 

Skinner said they would be continuing to work with communities that need this kind of support.  

He said a similar simulation could be rolled out for any rural community. “We have the ability to tailor it to the needs and capacity of each community.” 

Anyone interested in booking a simulation can do so through the request form on the RTVS Simulations page. 

The MaBAL midwifery team is also starting to offer MaBAL Coaching Sessions on Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 2pm Pacific with topics aimed towards nurses supporting maternity care in rural hospitals. 

The next session is on Jan. 27 and covers Assisted Delivery / Dystocia. 

Nurses interested in ongoing coaching can take part by joining the sessions using the links within the MaBAL page on the RCCbc website. More information on virtual simulation support can be found here.

Additional Resources on MaBAL