News / Edmonton

‘A big emotional hit’: Couples protest closure of fertility clinic

Thursday rally draws dozens to the steps of the Alberta legislature after government announced services will end at Lois Hole hospital

Jessica Teschke was at the rally to show support a family member, along with her kids, Tennyson, 3, and Everly, 6 months.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Jessica Teschke was at the rally to show support a family member, along with her kids, Tennyson, 3, and Everly, 6 months.

Amy Campbell won’t get to have another baby if the Alberta government ends fertility services at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

“I had a bit of a meltdown when I heard they were wanting to close the clinic,” Campbell told Metro.

Alberta Health Services announced in early November that two physicians would leave the hospital’s Regional Fertility and Women’s Endocrine Clinic, ending fertility services such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) as well as donor egg and sperm programs, in February 2018.

For Campbell, who already went through three IUI treatments at $325 each, continuing the process would mean moving to the private Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine at an extra $700 per treatment.

“If the clinic closes then that’s it, we’re done,” Campbell said. “The costs associated with the private clinic, we just can’t come up with that amount of money.”

Dozens rallied on the steps of the Alberta legislature Thursday demanding the government keep the services running.

Campbell has a two-year-old son who was born with the help of IUI treatments at the hospital, after patiently working her way up a year-long waiting list.

She said she was “blindsided” by the AHS announcement in November.

“I really wanted him to have a sibling, and it’s tough to take,” Campbell said.

“Closing it is just such a big emotional hit.”

While the procedures themselves are not covered by the government, the hospital did cover related services like bloodwork and ultrasound monitoring, which the private clinic charges for.

Paula Weiss had scheduled an appointment at the hospital before the ending of services was announced, and has since transferred to the private clinic where she will pay the extra costs.

She said the move has created confusion for upset patients, and feels there’s been a lack of accountability and transparency in the way it was carried out.

Weiss said patients are unclear on whether they can get refunds, and waiting weeks for their information to be transferred to the private clinic.

“This closure is impacting a lot of people, and the way that it has been communicated to us has been awful,” Weiss said.

“We are smart, intelligent women, and we deserve better than this.”

Friends of Medicare and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees have spoken out against the decision, and a petition to keep the services had reached close to 25,000 signatures Thursday afternoon.

Weiss, who has polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis, is hoping for a second child after having her son with the help of IUI treatments at Lois Hole in 2015.

“I didn’t choose to have reproductive disorders,” she said.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman issued a statement acknowledging the announcement has “led to uncertainty and stress for many families.”

She added that she is continuing to meet with affected families.

“Alberta Health Services will continue to provide all the same publicly insured services it has done through the Lois Hole clinic, and will assist patients throughout the transition if they wish to move to the private clinic,” she said.

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