Born in the USA
There was no room at the inn. Or anywhere in Canada. Therefore, Karen Jepp’s rare, identical quadruplets were born at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Montana, USA. For those counting, Calgary is Canada‘s third largest city. Great Falls is Montana‘s third largest metropolis.
How could an entire national system not have enough spare capacity for four simultaneous neonatal cases? A clue is provided by the Calgary Herald (linked above):
The Calgary Health Region is picking up the tab for the babies’ U.S. health care — from $1,500 to $2,000 a day for the mother, Karen, and from $6,000 to $7,000 a day for each of the four girl’s stay in intensive care. Had Karen delivered in Calgary, her care would have cost $800 a day, and it would have been $2,500 a day for the quads.
We have more spare capacity (note that this was the 5th time this year Calgary has run short on neonatal space). But we have this capacity because we pay for it.
Should a rural town of 56,000 have a world-class neonatal facility to deliver rare quadruplets? Who should decide? The political system?
In Canada, mothers like Karen are supported by the The Twins, Triplets and More Association of Calgary. The TTMAC is arguing that Calgary’s health system must expand swiftly, and officials agreed. They plan to expand to 18 beds in September (from 16). By early next year, they hope to have 21. I guess that kind of works … as long as the good folk in Great Falls are around.
UPDATE (8/21): The Charleston Daily Mail has an editorial that clarifies the bed situation. Benefis in Great Falls, MT, has 20 neonatal beds, 25% more capacity than Calgary, and only one less than the proposed Calgary expansion. This is in spite of a 20-1 population difference in the communities (although Benefis also services most of Montana and, apparently, portions of Canada). Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston (pop. 50,000) has 26 such beds. There appears to be a stark supply difference between the two systems.