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

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.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Grade 2 and 3 classes from a North Okanagan elementary took over Letters page of this Black Press newspaper

Most Read