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

Wyatt McCullough didn’t make it look easy, but he managed to succeed in the steer wrestling event at the High School Rodeo, held during in 2020 at Alex Fraser Park. This was the first rodeo event held in Quesnel in 2020 after everything else was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Saddle up: Quesnel Rodeo Club planning three 2021 events

Club president Ray Jasper said the rodeos could include rough stock events

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Joeseph Hayworth shared the code his brother and him discovered years ago on his Youtube channel. (Youtube)
Quesnel gamer shares lost secrets of retro game

Joeseph Hayworth and his brother discovered the secret years ago

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

Most Read