More new moms speak out about traumatic labour, delivery in Fraser Health

After OMNI News Punjabi and CityNews brought you the exclusive story of a mother who gave birth in Surrey Memorial’s hospital lobby, we have since found out it was not an isolated incident. Ashley Burr reports.


As Fraser Health apologizes for one woman’s traumatic experience giving birth in Surrey, two more new moms have come forward saying the story has brought back painful memories of their own deliveries.

Pawandeep Samra and her husband Gagandeep Singh Bandhan shared their story with OMNI Punjabi and CityNews Wednesday. Through tears, they described being turned away three times. When they returned for the fourth time, Samra gave birth on the floor of the lobby of Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Ramandeep Brar says seeing the story reminded her of what happened to her in October of last year.

“It all came fresh to me again. I felt for the woman, what she underwent in this situation and how she was treated. It should not be happening.”

Brar first went to the emergency room at Surrey Memorial at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29. After being examined, she was told she was only one centimetre dilated and sent home. As the night progressed, so did labour.

At 7 a.m., she phoned the hospital again.

“I was feeling so much pain. I felt like, ‘I’m going to deliver soon,’ she says, adding her plan was to inform the nurse she was speaking to that she was on her way back to the hospital.

“She told me if I was in so much pain and if the baby was coming soon, I wouldn’t be able to talk on the phone. It was so heartbreaking because I live with my in-laws and my husband wasn’t there at the moment. It was so sad.”

Shortly after that, her water broke and she called her brother-in-law who lives just a short drive away to get a ride to the hospital.

“Suddenly delivery happened. In 10 minutes, everything was done. The baby was born at home. I’m grateful, fortunately, and nothing bad happened and not me or my baby needed any urgent care at the moment. It stresses me even now. What would have been done if we needed any urgent care at the moment. ”

Brar says she is relieved that she and her baby boy are both healthy. But Brar says the experience has undermined her faith in the healthcare system.

“They are not taking patients seriously, they are not hearing them. So we all depend on the medical department and our doctors, whatever they say we just trust them. I couldn’t trust them. They didn’t help me. In the future I won’t be able to trust them. I want everyone to know this experience of mine, for mothers-to-be to be aware of what is happening in hospitals in British Columbia.”

Like Brar, Serina Sandhu was also reminded of what she went through when giving birth to her daughter last year when she watched Samra’s story.

“When that lady was speaking about her story and crying. I felt that pain, I get it, I understood,” she says.

“It just brought back so many memories, and memories that I didn’t speak about. I was just so upset about what happened, confused about what happened, and not sure I was overreacting about it. So I didn’t want to speak about it.”

So, she decided to tell her story.

On Nov 27, Sandhu was one week past her due date and went to Surrey Memorial to have labour induced. However, that didn’t end up happening.

“Since I was there for so many hours, my water ended up breaking itself. Once my water broke, I guess it was just so busy there, I guess they’re short-staffed. For whatever reason, I was just sitting in my own amniotic fluid. There was a puddle, a huge puddle of amniotic fluid.”

She was sent home.

“I was really scared to go home. I felt so much pain,” she says, adding she decided to go to her mom’s house because she “didn’t know where else to go.”

Distressed by the amount of pain she was in, she called the hospital back.

“I said, ‘You know what, something’s not right.'”

Then, she says she was told to call an ambulance, and the paramedics took her back to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“Once I got there I was told I was only four centimetres dilated, and that I should come back tomorrow because there’s no way I’m going to give birth so quickly.”

RELATED: ‘Very scary’: Expectant parents diverted from Lower Mainland hospitals, lack of resources increase risk

Sandhu says she was left with the impression that she was being turned away due to a lack of beds, and shortage of staff. Offered the option of going to another hospital, she was told not to wait for an ambulance to transfer her but instead to have her husband drive to Langley. Confused about why she couldn’t stay where she was if she needed medical attention, the couple got in their car. She says it was raining heavily, her husband was driving as fast as he could, and she was in active labour the entire way.

“That drive, it was so traumatic. I’m never going to forget that. It was so scary. I thought I was going to have the baby in the car.”

When she arrived she says she felt an immediate sense of relief that a room was ready for her. Her daughter was delivered by C-section the next day, a move Sandhu says was made because her blood pressure was sky-high.

While Sandhu doesn’t blame any of the individual healthcare workers for her ordeal, she thinks there are serious issues that need to be addressed.

“It’s such a shame. I’m sure there’s nurses that are taking care of people but if there’s not enough staff, they send them away. We got sent away. And we yell at the nurses. I mean, I was frustrated with the nurses too. But I know at the end of the day, it’s not their decision about what’s going to happen. ”

Fraser Health apologizes to woman who delivered baby on lobby floor 

Dr. Darren Lazare is the Fraser Health Authority’s regional department head for its mother, infant, child, youth program.

Contacted by OMNI Punjabi to comment on Samra’s case, he said he could not speak directly about it case because of patient confidentiality. He also said he understands how “traumatic” and “disturbing” the couple’s experience may have been.

“Labour and delivery can be unpredictable. It’s one of the scariest and also one of the most challenging parts of looking after women in labour. And so the teams work extremely hard, and are highly trained to look after our patients and to provide timely and safe care,” he says.

“In situations, particularly with patients who maybe have had a baby before, labour can sometimes progress quite rapidly. And you may go from being a few centimetres dilated to fully dilated and ready to deliver in a very short period of time. Sometimes that’s not the case and it takes a long time to progress throughout your labour. So, I think that’s the challenge of looking after our obstetric population — is the unpredictability of it.”

Lazare says on behalf of the Fraser Health authority, “I offer my sincere apologies to our patient who had this experience.”

As the health-care sector continues to bare the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lazare admits that all hospital units are strained.

“We’re all dealing with challenges within the pandemic, particularly with Omicron ripping through our community. It’s very challenging, and it affects the patients, it affects our care providers, including the nurses, the physicians, the midwives. I think we’re challenged — as every unit, as every hospital is — to make sure that we do have adequate staffing.”

With files from Nikitha Martins

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