Building Blocks to Sustainable Rural Maternity Care: The North Island Project

About the Project

Building Blocks to Sustainable Maternity Care The North Island Project aims to consider system supports necessary to sustain low volume services in British Columbia.  This in-depth, community-driven investigation will use open-ended interviews and focus groups with community members to engage in feasibility analysis of each of the five Building Blocks to Sustainable Maternity Care.

Phase 1 involved engaging with community members to learn about their experiences of birth. Phase 2 involves creating a roadmap of how to support maternity services in Port McNeill. Funding for the project was given by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues and the project is funded for 2 years. The project is being led by Jude Kornelsen in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia and we are working closely with Hannah Scrivens and the Kwakwaka’wakw Maternal Child and Family Health Project.

Click here to follow updates from the field!


Timeline: May 2017 – February 2019

Location: North Island

Funding Agency: Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues

Principle Investigator: Jude Kornelsen

UBC Research Assistant: Kira Barwich


Project Context

We are currently witnessing adverse outcomes due to the ongoing closures or downgrading of rural health services in British Columbia, Canada and Internationally. The loss of local maternity services and subsequent need for women and families to travel for care has resulted in poorer maternal-newborn health outcomes and a number of social challenges associated with leaving the community and dissociation from family ties and larger community social supports.  Women often have to leave home several weeks before their babies are due, and are away from home for a substantial period of time while they wait to have their babies.  


Aim of Project

A gap currently exists between system imperatives of birth ‘closer to home’ and health service supports that enable such care. We have not systematically looked at how we can support small rural maternity services to provide excellent, high-quality and sustainable maternity care. We will engage in feasibility analysis for each of the Building Blocks for Sustainable Maternity Care (depicted below) in order to further understand how to best support rural maternity care in British Columbia.


We will engage in a feedback loop at every phase in the data gathering with both the local community and the local and referral care provider team to ensure that community values and best clinical practices are appropriately captured and summarized. In addition, we will continue our intensive engagement with communities including indigenous communities, other community key stakeholders, administrators and care providers to reflect community priorities.


For more information about this project, please contact:

Kira Barwich (Ph: 604-827-2544 or email:

Follow updates from the field by clicking here!