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Expecting moms navigate through new hospital rules because of coronavirus

Hospitals restricting birthing, post-partum visits
Lisa Noel with her and her 2-year-old daughter.
Lisa Noel with her husband
Posted at 3:00 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 17:53:07-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It is one of the most important moments in a woman’s life, giving birth to their child.

Many expecting mothers plan for months who will be with them in the delivery room. But now with current coronavirus pandemic, that support system in the hospital is restricted.

MORE: Latest news on the coronavirus

“Our children can’t come, our friends, our family. My husband can be there with me during, obviously, the labor and delivery,” said Lisa Noel who plans to give birth next month at Wellington Regional Medical Center.

The hospital says mothers in labor are allowed only one adult support person to stay overnight with laboring and postpartum moms. The support visitor will be allowed to leave and return between the hours of noon and 5 p.m.

Many other hospitals are adopting similar protocols to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

St. Mary’s Medical Center says birthing and postpartum moms are allowed to have their significant partner accompany them. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit visitation is limited to only parents.

One father, who says his 1 month old is in the PICU at St. Mary’s Medical Center, says until recently he was allowed in every day along with the child’s mother who has been staying with the baby. However, he says on Monday he was told only one person can be in the PICU at a time.

“As a father, a parent, and my daughter fighting for her life, because that’s what she’s doing, I feel they should have made some type of exceptions,” said Pedro Santiago.

Below is a statement from Palm Beach Children’s Hospital regarding visiting hours:

The situation surrounding COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) continues to evolve and changes are occurring rapidly. The CDC recommends aggressive visitor restrictions. St. Mary’s Medical Center and Palm Beach Children’s Hospital are restricting visitation. Please know, the health and safety of our patients, their families, and team members remains a top priority for our organization. Our NICU visiting hours are 9am-6:30pm and 7:30pm-6:30am. Parents, visitors or guardians may switch out 1 time in a 24 hour period. This includes our PICU, children who are being treated at the hospital for ambulatory care, outpatient lab work, inpatient and outpatient surgery. Alternative means of communication between families and patients such as virtual visitation, Skype, FaceTime, etc. are encouraged. We take these proactive precautions to protect our patients, team members, and the communities we serve. We are sensitive to the separation this restriction causes our patients and their loved ones, but we believe this measure of protection is essential at this time to keep people safe.
Lisa Noel with her husband
Lisa Noel with her husband

Noel, who is possibly weeks away from giving birth to her third child in Wellington, says she understands why hospitals are implementing new rules and has been in communication with her doctor frequently.

“My only concern now is that depending on when the baby decides to grace us, it’s like, will the guidelines change? Will they allow my husband to even be there at all? And that kind of scares me because I don’t want to do it by myself,” said Noel.

Below is a statement from St. Mary’s Medical Center specifically regarding labor and delivery:

Our hospitals are monitoring information from federal, state and local public health agencies for current information on the coronavirus (COVID-19). Our clinical teams are in constant review of infection prevention processes and update patient screenings as recommended by the CDC. For the safety of our patients, we will no longer be accepting visitors into the facility until further notice. For maternity services, one person will be allowed to accompany expectant mothers during labor and delivery. Patients can use their personal devices for virtual visits and phone calls to additional family members, support team members, etc.