Children with Cerebral Palsy Struggle to Access Medical Care in Northern Communities

Children with cerebral palsy and their families continue to face challenges accessing medical care and services in rural locations. Two families told their story to the Vancouver Sun. Both are in receipt of legal settlements as a result of the medical errors made around the time of their birth. Both families describe their frustration and struggles in accessing the medical care their children need in the northern hometowns.

Krystal McKinnon, mother of 12 year old Brendan, describes an incident when Brendan’s feeding tube was broken and the emergency room department at Prince George Regional Hospital did not have a replacement part. When Krystal was finally able to locate a replacement part on her own, she explains that, “the doctors just sat around watching” as she put the feeding tube in. She says they often feel like guinea pigs when dealing with medical professionals who are uneducated in cerebral palsy.

Paul and Jean Gotro, parents of nine year old Kai, were forced to leave Quesnel, their home of 20 years, and move to Kamloops in order to be closer to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. They describe the hassle and financial burden of having to make numerous trips to travel to Vancouver in order to obtain high quality medical care. Michael McMillan, chief operating officer of the Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area explains that due to the small population in the north relative to the rest of the province, a number of specialized services are simply not offered. However, this explanation is of little comfort to those families who are already struggling with the significant emotional, physical and financial impact of raising a child with cerebral palsy. In order to protect these children from further medical complications, and to allow them to reach their full potential, it is imperative that they have the necessary resources to access adequate medical care.

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