MEDICINE MATTERS: B.C. Women’s Hospital earns revenue on private pay births but limits foreigner births, unlike Richmond hospital

I had some input in this story about birth tourism in Richmond. As you’ll read, there’s at least one home in Richmond which seems to be operating akin to a maternity motel.

I don’t know if the 300 foreigner births at Richmond Hospital are squeezing local moms out or having any kind of negative impact but at Canada’s largest maternity hospital – BC Women’s in Vancouver – there were reportedly only 12 babies delivered to mothers from other countries last year.

Dr. Jan Christilaw, president of BC Women’s Hospital, said that in 2007/08, criteria was put in place to define those who could have their babies there “because everyone wanted to come here” and there are only so many labour and delivery rooms and nurses. She said:

“We can’t provide high quality, safe care if we are operating over capacity. If we’re telling women there is certain criteria for coming here, then it’s not fair to let people come from other countries. I have a mandate to look after our own people.”

As a result, women from other countries who are short-term visitors cannot deliver at the hospital.

Christilaw conceded it is not a perfect system, as the 12 who delivered last year did “slip through the cracks.”

On its website, the hospital lays out eligibility criteria for who can give birth there – women who live in Vancouver, have a high risk pregnancy and the need for specialized services, have had a previous baby there, or are long-term patients of a doctor or midwife who practices there. Physicians who want to deliver babies to moms who don’t meet the criteria are restricted to one such delivery a year.