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Obstetrics department at Stevenson slightly tweaked under COVID-19

June 26, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) has continued delivering babies throughout the pandemic, with some modifications, but SMH CEO Jody Levac says they’re trying to keep things “business as usual as much as we can.”

“In the middle of this pandemic we’re trying to keep things as normal as we can, we’ve had to make some change… to protect the safety of expecting parents,” he noted during SMH’s Virtual Q&A last Thursday (June 18).

Individuals will use the main entrance and will be screened for COVID-19 as they come into the hospital.

“You’re going to be asked to wear a mask and we’re asking everyone who comes into the building to wear a level one surgical mask,” Levac explained.

The SMH Auxiliary and some members of the public have donated cloth masks that people can take home and use following their discharge from the hospital.

There were supply concerns in the past for personal protective equipment and masks. While SMH is now stocked, Levac said they’re being cautious and ensuring adequate supply chains are in place.

Doulas have been absent from SMH since the start of the pandemic. Under provincial directives, women in labour can only have one visitor at a time, which is generally their spouse or partner.

“We’re concerned about the safety of everybody, staff, patients, etc. so restricting people coming to our building is just a smart thing to do,” Levac said.

Doulas do not provide clinical support, they’re not regulated under the Health Professions Act, and are therefore deemed unessential. However, Levac said that they do provide a critical service in emotionally supporting an expecting mother following the birthing process.

SMH’s overnight policy for visitors has remained in place but is still only allowed for one person.

“You can stay overnight, we have extra beds for them to be in the room… by the choice of the patients in labour and that has not changed and I don’t think it will change,” noted Levac.

He said at this point extended family and friends must stay away from the hospital, however he longs for the days when they can again fill the halls with loved ones to support new families on their special day.

Mothers in labour are not expected to wear a mask in the operating room and neither is the obstetrics department; everyone is cleared of COVID-19 prior to entering the delivery room.

When SMH staff, the mother or visitor leave the room they must put on their mask, practice physical distancing in the hospital, and wash their hands when they return into the delivery room.

When leaving the hospital, new mothers can be immune compromised so it’s important that they limit their exposure to potential sources of COVID-19, said Dr. Jaco Scheeres, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

“Social distancing is a good thing in this scenario. You would limit your family visits potentially to people who live in the house with you,” he remarked.

Any extended families should be interacted with through a video chat platform such as FaceTime or Zoom, as opposed to in-person visits, Dr. Scheeres said.

Meanwhile, Levac noted that SMH has been working behind the scenes on its redevelopment project, which will modernize much of the hospitals outdated infrastructure, built in 1964.

He said SMH Town Halls will be hosted in the future to give updates on their progress.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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