Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Protocols followed: WRHA

Mother was given standard supports: Oswald

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MANITOBA'S health minister says a preliminary review of Lisa Gibson's contact with the health-care system indicates normal protocols were followed in her care.

Theresa Oswald said in an interview Monday the results of the review by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) will be sent to the chief medical examiner's office.

Help for postpartum depression

  • A public health nurse can flag likely cases and direct family members to supports within the system.
  • Midwives or family doctors can also offer advice or referrals on treatment.
  • For more information about resources and supports, call the Women's Health Clinic Mothers Program at 204-947-1517.

If you're thinking about harming yourself or your baby or feel you're in crisis:

  • Call the Mobile Crisis Service (24 hours) at 204-940-1781;
  • Go to the Crisis Response Centre at 817 Bannatyne Ave. (24 hours); Call Klinic Community Health Centre crisis line at 204-786-8686;
  • Call the Manitoba Suicide Line at 1-877-435-7170 (24 hours); or
  • Call Health Links (24 hours) at 204-788-8200.

-- Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

"Our priority right now is looking at what happened in this case and all of that review material will go to the proper authorities," she said. "We'll provide that information so there can be as fulsome as possible an understanding of what happened here."

Oswald said she cannot provide specific information about the case. "But I can say that in the early assessment, it doesn't appear that there was any deviation from those standard supports (for women with symptoms of postpartum depression) in this case."

Heidi Graham, a spokeswoman for the WRHA, said Monday the results of the review will not be made public. "At this point, the family has asked that its privacy be respected," she said, "so we would not be releasing personal health information."

Graham could not say when the review may be completed.

Chief Medical Examiner Thambirajah Balachandra could not be reached on Monday, but the province's Fatality Inquiries Act suggests an investigation is likely.

Balachandra must investigate any deaths that happen as a result of homicide or suicide, and any deaths during or after a pregnancy. An investigation is also mandatory when a child dies. The medical examiner can then direct a provincial judge to hold an public inquest.

Gibson's body was pulled from the Red River on Saturday. Police discovered her two-year-old daughter Anna and three-month-old son Nicholas in the bathtub of their Coleridge Park Drive home after receiving a 911 call. The children were later pronounced dead in hospital.

Sources have told the Free Press that Gibson had reached out for help, seeing a doctor on July 18. She was diagnosed with a postpartum illness and given medication.

Oswald said that, as a mother, she found "this whole story to be shattering." She said there are "many, many dedicated professionals" in the health-care system that are "doing a magnificent job" in assessing and treating women with postpartum depression.

She said the first line of defence includes midwives, general practitioners and public health nurses. The services of health nurses are offered to families when a baby is born. Most families take advantage of these services. The nurses can also act as case managers, forwarding women to specialized care. "If risk factors get identified, nurses assess the mental health of the new parents and offer some supports to them," Oswald said.

Dr. Carrie Lionberg, a WRHA clinical psychologist, said there are several community based services, including support groups, available to women with postpartum depression. She said anybody who is providing or co-ordinating such services "is equipped to screen and keep an eye out for somebody who might need more specialized intervention."

Lionberg did not know how long a woman with postpartum symptoms may wait to see a psychiatrist, since it is not her area. But waits to see psychologists with the hospital system can range from a few days to a month to six weeks, she said, depending on the severity of a woman's symptoms.

A memorial service for Lisa Gibson and her two children will be held Thursday at MacKenzie Funeral Home, 433 Main St. in Stonewall.

-- with files from Mary Agnes Welch

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2013 A3


Updated on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 1:05 PM CDT: corrects typo

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