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Terrace Women’s Wellness Group awarded 2020 BC Rural Health Award


Three women and a man are pictured.
Members of the Terrace Women’s Wellness Group (top l-r: Dr. Carla Gemeinhardt, registered midwife Bethany Nash, Dr. Amy Passmore; bottom l-r: medical office assistant Terri Soucie and Dr. Jaco Strydom; missing: Dr. Dawid Janse van Rensberg and Dr. Kirsti Ziola). Photo credit: Rural Coordination Centre of BC.

(Note: a version of this story originally appeared on the Rural Coordination Centre of BC website.)

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group has won the 2020 Award of Excellence for Team-based Rural Maternity Care from the BC Rural Health Awards. This team provides support for women’s reproductive health in BC’s Pacific Northwest and consists of obstetrician/gynecologists Dr. Dawid Janse van Rensburg and Dr. Kirsti Ziola; family doctors Dr. Carla Gemeinhardt, Dr. Amy Passmore, and Dr. Jacobus Strydom; and registered midwife Bethany Nash.

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group started five years ago to address a gap in the long-term care of women experiencing high-risk pregnancies. Local obstetricians noticed that when a pregnant woman and her doctor worked together to manage the conditions contributing to increased risk in the pregnancy, her actual labour tended to be lower risk. However, because obstetricians work on-call, a patient isn’t guaranteed to have her usual doctor during delivery.

“It’s frustrating for health care providers to see a high-risk patient for the first time during labour,” says Dr. Strydom. “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 identify which patients may need care over the next two-week period. The meeting is an opportunity for group learning with the team to review new protocols in labour, address process changes, and get updates on available supplies for vaginal and surgical births. 

The Terrace Women’s Wellness Group started to address the community’s complex maternity cases, but the group has since evolved to address more health care concerns, such as follow up of abnormal pap smears and performing different first trimester procedures. 

Registered midwife Bethany Nash joined the wellness group 18 months ago and plays an important role, doing deliveries and providing six weeks of post-partum care for select patients, including patients who don’t have a family doctor. The team has become a referral centre for women from the smaller communities surrounding Terrace, including Kitimat, Kitwanga, and Hazelton, with people occasionally traveling in from the Nass Valley and Smithers as well. The group is truly an inspirational model for team-based rural maternity care in British Columbia. 

The award ceremony to recognize the Terrace Women’s Wellness group, and other BC Rural Health Award winners, will happen at the 2021 BC Rural Health Conference scheduled for May 2021 in Penticton.