Woman gives birth in car because local obstetrics department was closed

The province's current nursing shortage led to an unconventional birth last week and a refusal to work mandatory overtime Monday.

Last Thursday night a couple from the Charlevoix region arrived at the Malbaie hospital expecting to give birth to their daughter. However due to a shortage of nurses the hospital's obstetrics department is closed from Thursday morning until Tuesday.

The CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale said the woman was evaluated by emergency room nurses and the situation was discussed by doctors at the hospital and another hospital in Quebec City.

It was determined the couple had enough time to drive to the hospital in Quebec City, which was about two-hours away, before the woman would be fully in labour.

In the end, the couple did not have enough time and the child was born in the car on the way to the hospital.

"In the context of obstetric closure at La Malbaie Hospital, any patient presenting to the emergency room or birth unit for an obstetric situation is evaluated by the qualified nursing staff, who then presents the situation to the patient," the CIUSS de la Capitale-Nationale said in a statement. "According to the results of this clinical evaluation, the patient may then be discharged or referred to a gynecologist-obstetrician at the University Hospital of Québec-Université Laval."

The mother and child are doing fine, but the family told the Journal de Montreal they are considering legal action against the hospital.

On Monday, about 76,000 nurses across Quebec are refusing to do mandatory overtime.

Unions are upset over the shortage of nurses in all regions of the province, which forces members into prolonged workdays. The groups want Health Minister Daniel McCann to keep her promise to abolish mandatory overtime.

Last week, Quebec's Labour Court ruled that nurses need to accept any request for overtime should an urgent or exception situation present itself.