Regina mom says baby's death could have been prevented
REGINA - A mother in Saskatchewan says the death of her newborn could have been prevented if the hospital had had a general nursery and more nurses to watch babies.
Amanda Brass gave birth to a seemingly healthy baby girl March 19. But five hours later little Cambria Tammie-Leigh Shuba went into respiratory distress. She was declared brain dead the next day.
Brass told a news conference Thursday that she had Cambria in bed with her to nurse.
"She wasn't interested so I kind of moved back away from her ... and I asked the nurse, 'Should I put her back in the bassinet?' and she said 'no.' She checked our vitals. She said, 'No, you guys are OK. You just go to sleep," recalled a tearful Brass.
"About 45 minutes later I awoke to a nurse screaming, 'She's not breathing. She's not breathing."'
The Regina General Hospital tries to keep babies in their mothers' rooms to encourage bonding. The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region says the guidelines were introduced by Health Canada in 2000.
Last November, the hospital opened its new mother-baby unit with 36 private rooms. A general nursery where all babies used to be kept is gone.
Brass said the nurse came into her room every 45 minutes to an hour to make sure everything was all right. The nurse did everything humanly possible, Brass said, but there just weren't enough staff.
"The nurses confided to us that in the four months since the nursery had been removed, they had all anticipated an incident or even the death of a baby."
The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses said Thursday that nurses raised concerns about staffing levels and the care of moms and babies before and after the mother-baby unit opened.
"While the model of care may be sound -- the philosophy of having the baby stay with mom and bond is probably a good philosophy -- the staffing and the resources to make that safe are crucial," said union president Rosalee Longmoore.
For example, Longmoore said, the nursing station at the hospital is at one end of the hallway while the rooms stretch down the hall and around the corner.
"So if you think of a mom and baby in the room alone, there are some risks to that."
Diane Larrivee, spokeswoman for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, said there is still a small nursery for babies who may need extra observation. Mothers and babies in private rooms are monitored "very frequently" in the first few hours after birth.
Larrivee cited patient confidentiality for not commenting directly on Cambria's death, but did say a review is underway.
"It looks at the facts of the case and what happened. We look at what the contributing factors may be. We'll look at are there particular policies that may have contributed and we'll come up with recommendations," she said.
"We aren't going to make a change immediately. We need to understand what happened."
The review is expected to take a number of months.
The coroner is also investigating how the baby died, including the possibility that she was accidentally smothered or had a breathing problem.
Brass said she believes Cambria might still be alive had she been under the watchful eye of a nurse in a nursery.
The coroner's conclusion doesn't matter to her.
"Doesn't change anything," she said. "They need to be monitored because if it was a health complication, then it could have been prevented. They could have maybe seen something."