For the second time in a week, Kitimat General Hospital is facing allegations of racism resulting in death. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Kitimat couple sue hospital, health authority after stillborn delivery

Sarah Morrison and Ronald Luft are accusing racial profiling and negligence by staff

A Kitimat woman and her partner, who delivered a stillborn after being turned away at the local hospital and forced to drive to Terrace, nearly an hour away, have filed a lawsuit against Northern Health, Kitimat General Hospital and several doctors and nurses.

Earlier this month, the couple came forward to Black Press Media with their allegations, prompting an internal investigation by the Northern Health Authority.

According to court documents filed in BC Supreme Court on Feb. 10, Sarah Morrison, who is Indigenous, and Ronald Luft are accusing racial profiling and negligence by staff at Kitimat General Hospital and Mills Memorial Hospital.

ALSO READ: Family claims pregnant woman was turned away at Kitimat hospital, ending in stillborn birth

None of these accusations have been tested in court. The sequence of events detailed in the lawsuit are as follows:

Morrison and Luft called the Kitimat hospital on the evening of Jan. 27 to say they’d be coming in because Morrison was experiencing painful contractions. At the time, Morrison was two weeks overdue.

The pair arrived at the hospital where a nurse examined the baby’s heart rate, which was recorded at 140. Morrison said she was experiencing fluid leakage but the nurse did not examine her further.

When the on-call doctor arrived, Dr. Huang, he “took about 10 minutes” checking on Morrison, but did not do any kind of examination. He then said “there was nothing he could do for them and that he did not understand why they came to KGH” and that they should have gone to Terrace.

The pair left the hospital around 7 p.m. and called an ambulance so paramedics could take them to Mills Memorial Hospital, a roughly 45-minute drive.

When the ambulance arrived, a paramedic refused to take them unless they paid for the trip. Under B.C.’s Health Act, ambulance services can involve payment through insurance providers or by cost of the patient.

Morrison and Luft agreed to pay, however, the paramedic still refused because Huang said transportation was not necessary.

Morrison’s father drove them to Terrace, when she started to experience increasingly intense contractions.

Upon arrival, at about 8 p.m., the pair waited 15 minutes before a nurse gave Morrison a blanket and set up a heart rate monitor. Two nurses and three doctors, identified as Dr. Passmore, Dr. McCann, Dr. McGivery, looked at the heart rate monitor, but were unable to find a heartbeat.

Morrison asked a fourth physician, Dr. Jacobus Strydom, to perform a Cesarian but was told “he did not see the point and it was not in her best interest for future pregnancies.” Morrison said she wanted to save her baby.

The pair attempted to leave the hospital “to find help elsewhere” when Morrison’s mother arrived. She demanded that her daughter be monitored for her fluids and oxygen, receive oxycotin to regulate her contractions and for an additional examination to be done before doing a Cesarian.

Morrison was offered fentanyl for her pain, as well as morphine and nitrous oxide. She gave birth to a seven pound and eight ounce baby girl, named Coral-Lee Edith Cheryl Luft, at 1:55 a.m.

The baby was washed and wrapped in a blanket and given to Morrison, but “no attempts to resuscitate the baby were made.”

No examination was done on the baby.

According to the court documents, Morrison’s health records included “erroneous and racial stereotyping” such as that she was in an abusive relationship, that her parents had diabetes, that she had annual urinary tract infections and was depressed, and that her parents were alcoholics and recovering from drug use.

Since the incident, the couple say they’ve experienced emotional and psychological trauma, grief, loss of the will to live, shame and embarrassment.

None of those named in the lawsuit have filed a response as of Feb. 12.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region — will be operating under the auspices of Trail Transit, BC Transit announced this week. (Townsman file photo)
East Kootenay operating services contract awarded to Trail Transit

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region… Continue reading

'Gone Fishing,' by Lynn Taylor
Taylor’s dreams take life at Cranbrook Arts

Lynn Taylor grew up in Ontario and dreamt of being an artist… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read