Nisga’a woman said the racist nurse’s behavior during childbirth caused her son’s brain injury
A Nisga’a woman said that a nurse in a hospital in northern British Columbia was racially discriminated against during childbirth, which caused her newborn son to have a brain injury.
Kristy White immediately lodged a complaint with the Northern Department of Health after receiving treatment at the Northern University Hospital of British Columbia in Prince George, during which she claimed that a nurse made racist comments and refused to give her medication Drugs that can cause childbirth, which violates the doctor’s order.
According to a neurologist report provided to CBC, White’s son Wesley suffered from cerebral hemorrhage and developmental delays in mobility and communication. Wesley recently celebrated his first birthday and has been undergoing intense physical and occupational therapy since October 2020, requiring a support chair to sit up.
White was told that her son’s condition may have been caused by the vacuum-assisted childbirth, which might not be necessary if it were not the behavior of the nurse.
In an email response to White, Northern Health admitted that there was a disagreement between the doctor and the nurse and that “the team did not operate effectively.” It concluded that the nurse’s behavior was not the result of racism, but out of concerns about the safety of White and her children.
White has filed a lawsuit with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and BC Nursing College, and plans to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.
She said she was speaking out because she didn’t want other parents to experience what she did.
“I have been silent for a long time because it is so fresh. It hurts,” White said. “I hope this will give others a chance to speak up.”
Disagreement between nurse and doctor
White and her husband Warren are from Laxgalts’ap, a village in Nisga’a in northwestern British Columbia, also known as Greenville. They drove more than 600 kilometers and went to North British Columbia University Hospital to deliver the baby on June 17, 2020, after White’s doctors thought she should give birth in a fully equipped hospital.
Because her baby has been moved to a lateral position—on the side of the uterus, rather than a head-down position where he is ready to be born—White said that once the baby has moved to a more favorable position, her doctor decided to use oxytocin to induce labor. Vegetarian. White’s dose was increased every half an hour until she was ready to give birth.
Early in the morning on June 18, nurses changed shifts. White said she immediately noticed that the new nurse did not like her. According to White, the nurse refused to increase the dose of oxytocin throughout the day, often quarreled with the doctor, and repeatedly asked the doctor to leave the room.
White claimed that the nurse referred to her and her husband as Indians and made racist comments about the way they harvest and preserve food.
She said that the nurse blocked the door of her room to prevent White’s husband from leaving. Finally, the nurse turned her back and White said that her husband ran out to find a doctor.
“The doctor had to stand next to the nurse in the delivery room and tell her to increase the dose, but she still didn’t increase it,” White said.
She said that the nurse finally gave the drug, and White was ready to give birth in a few minutes.
“I have never been so scared in my life”
But more than 24 hours after giving birth, White suffered chest pain and was exhausted, unable to give birth. She asked for a cesarean section.
“I have never been so scared in my life,” she said.
Doctors believe that due to a variety of factors, the risk of caesarean section is too high, and a vacuum assisted delivery is performed.
White gave birth at 3:30 pm on June 18.
She said that a few weeks after she was born, she began to notice signs of Wesley’s stunting.
After an MRI in May 2021, Wesley’s neurologist told White that her son’s cerebral hemorrhage may have been caused by vacuum-assisted delivery.
The Nisga government issued a statement Support White.
In a statement provided to CBC, Northern Health stated: “When the issue was raised in June 2020, it investigated the quality of care complaint and provided a response to the complainant.”
Racism in the healthcare system
Olivia Louie, a native of British Columbia, said that she had encountered a similar situation in health care. She said that many of her clients have been affected by racism, which has led to trauma and sometimes even physical injury.
Louis said she also saw a lack of accountability or recognition in the healthcare system.
“The perpetrators of racism should not be the ones who decide whether racist incidents happen or not,” Louis said.
Lorraine Whitman, president of the Canadian Indigenous Women’s Association, said that indigenous racism is a problem throughout Canada, and situations like White can cause indigenous women and girls to avoid seeking medical help.
2020 report At a glanceIt was the result of an independent review by former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond that found that Aboriginal women and girls were disproportionately affected by racism in the BC health care system.
“We know it exists, and now people are starting to shout,” Warren said. “They won’t be silent anymore.”