To ensure a safe delivery and provide mothers and their families with the best birth experience possible, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Childbirth Center in Bellingham and the Birth Center at Island Hospital in Anacortes are balancing new visitor restrictions and social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. Both childbirth centers made the difficult decision to minimize visitors and limit primary support persons in the delivery room to one. This practice reduces the opportunity of exposure to COVID-19 for both mom and baby as well as the clinicians providing care.
“Working purposefully to promote patient health and safety while preserving elements that support patient experience have been difficult,” said Gallit Eni, nurse manager, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Childbirth Center. “We are closely following the guidance of the CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Washington State Department of Health and our own organization’s practices for safety precautions. These recommendations have changed our processes, but we remain focused on supporting mom, baby and family to create the safest environment for everyone.”
These are some of the precautions adopted by PeaceHealth and Island Hospital’s childbirth centers and other centers nationwide:
Providing separate entrances for delivering moms.
Limiting visitation to one primary support person to minimize the opportunity of exposure.
Offering the primary support person with meals to limit the need to go in and out of the birthing unit.
Screening caregivers, visitors and patients for signs of illness.
Assigning nursing staff to work solely in the childbirth unit.
Denise Jones, chief patient care executive at Island Hospital wants new moms to know that the hospital birth experience – while different at this time – can still be a joyous event. “We want to ensure that our birthing mothers have a safe and healthy environment for their delivery while respecting the need for emotional support during labor,” Jones said.
Jones and Eni expressed concerns for women that may choose to deliver outside of the hospital out of fear of contracting COVID-19 or the belief that no support person is allowed in the delivery room. Staff at both centers remain sensitive to the needs of new mothers and are ready to provide a compassionate and memorable experience for them and their families as they welcome their little ones into the world.
Eni shared that PeaceHealth St. Joseph is calling expecting moms that may deliver within the next two weeks to answer questions and address any concerns patients may have about their delivery.
About PeaceHealth: Based in Vancouver, Wash., PeaceHealth is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center, a 10-bed Critical Access Hospital in Friday Harbor, serves communities in the San Juan Islands. Key services include general and orthopedic surgery, oncology, behavioral health and primary care. Visit us online at peacehealth.org.
About Island Hospital: West Skagit County, North Whidbey, and the San Juan Island residents have relied on Island Hospital for their healthcare needs since 1962. Staffed by nearly 200 healthcare providers, Island Hospital’s quality and range of services belies its size. With 43 beds, Island is the state’s smallest hospital providing Level III trauma care. Other services include cancer care, diagnostic imaging, in- and out-patient surgery, birth center, acute/critical care, Visit www.islandhospital.org for information.
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