Submitted by PeaceHealth

To ensure a safe delivery and provide mothers and their families with the best birth experience possible, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Childbirth Center in Bellingham is balancing new visitor restrictions and social distancing in the wake of COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect our community, the childbirth center 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 St. Joseph Childbirth Center:

  • Providing separate entrances for delivering moms.
  • Testing all patients for COVID-19 upon admission or prior to admission for scheduled cesarean sections and inductions.
  • Limiting visitation to one primary support person — consistent throughout the patient’s stay — 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.

Eni 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.” 

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 the childbirth center 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. While visitation is limited, she added, the childbirth center team will help patients set up video visits to connect with family and friends.

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. 

Expecting mothers can learn more about changes at the childbirth center by visitinghttps://www.peacehealth.org/safebirths.

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