PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Doctors in Port. St. Lucie are stressing the importance of prenatal care to pregnant patients during the coronavirus pandemic and are warning them to not skip appointments over fear of visiting the hospital.
"Patients are concerned," said Dr. Pete Papapanos, OBGYN at St. Lucie Medical Center. "They were concerned with the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy. They were concerned about how their experience is going to be in the birthing center when they're ready to deliver."
Dr. Papapanos said he's seen a 40% spike in pregnancy patients since the pandemic began.
Emily Karsch, pregnancy patient, admitted she was nervous when COVID-19 cases started to rise.
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"I think every day I googled pregnancy and COVID and symptoms and every cough or ache or pain," said Karsch.
Karsch said once she began to see a doctor though, a weight was lifted off of her shoulders.
"As soon as I had my first visit everything has been comforting," said Karsch.
At St. Lucie Medical Center, O-B patients are given pagers and have to wait in their cars before being brought in one at a time and alone.
"We will allow them to Facetime when they have their ultrasounds and show their significant others pictures of the baby during the ultrasound," said Dr. Papapanos.
Everyone who wants to enter the hospital has to wear a mask, have their temperature taken, and wash their hands before going inside.
"We know that pregnancy suppresses your immune system," said Dr. Papapanos. "Given that COVID-19 is an infection, yes, we would recommend to mother to be and the pregnant patients right now to make sure that they protect themselves as much as they can."
"You have to be as safe as possible because you have two people to take care of," said Karsch.