ORLANDO, Fla. — Many hospitals are putting in stricter visitation policies in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.
- Doulas who normally help in delivery rooms now offer virtual support
- Hospitals put in stricter visitation policies
- Baby classes have also moved online
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For some expectant mothers, that’s adding extra stress as they prepare to deliver their new babies, in many cases now with just one person in the room.
“So I’m going to go ahead and get started. So my question to you is how long should a baby be breastfed?” Kathy Bradley asks during a zoom meeting.
Like many others around Central Florida, these days Bradley is working from home.
“In fact, yesterday I did a postpartum visit with a mom that delivered three weeks ago and it was done virtually, right here from my office,” Bradley said, owner of Childbirth Concierge.
Kathy typically works as a doula in the delivery room and teaches classes in-person through Childbirth Concierge. The spread of coronavirus around the world and across the Sunshine State has driven her to find new ways to educate and provide needed support to pregnant women while social distancing.
“And it’s very challenging and scary times for everybody. Let alone being pregnant,” she said.
Right now, Advent Health is allowing delivering mothers to have one adult visitor with them. Orlando Health is doing the same.
So instead of being in the delivery room as a doula, Bradley now joins in virtually, coaching partners and delivering moms.
“So, doulas are typically with mom in labor and delivery and we’re doing physical and emotional support. Well, hospitals across the country have either made the decision that no one will be in or at least one support, so it forced families to make a decision. So the doulas really aren’t able to be, so doing virtual support is the next best step,” Bradley said.
And classes like "how to put together a birthing plan during COVID-19" or breastfeeding are all moving online too. Bradley and some of the hospitals are offering some for free.
“A lot of people have lost their income. So we decided, we’re at home, how can we contribute? We have the knowledge, we have the experience, it was logical just to do free classes,” Bradley said.
Women from 12 states around the country and even as far as the UK are joining in the virtual classes, often after finding their in-person services in their hometowns and clinics cancelled over coronavirus concerns for safety.
Bradley says giving birth is stressful enough, she’s glad to help people stay informed.
“If they get the information and they feel more confident, then we’ve done our job,” she said.
Expectant mothers are encouraged to regularly check in with their providers so they can stay prepared for any changes to visitation policies.
For more information on accessing free childbirth education classes, visit Childbirth Concierge, or get in touch with the hospital handling your delivery.
Visitation Policies at Area Hospitals
We reached out to a number of hospitals in the area to get the latest on visitor policies during coronavirus for expectant and delivering moms.
Visitation will be continued for special circumstances, such as if the visitor is the power-of-attorney or medical decision-maker. Visitation will also be permitted in end-of-life situations. Other exceptions and additional guidelines include:
- Patients under the age of 18 may be accompanied by one adult visitor (parent, legally authorized person or caregiver). No additional visitors or siblings allowed.
- Obstetric patients can have one adult visitor.
- Exceptions will be made for extenuating circumstances such as imminent end-of-life or unique patient needs for support.
- In all circumstances, visitors who are sick will not be permitted to enter the hospital, unless they are seeking personal medical care.
Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital Policy
The safety of our patients, visitors and team members is a top priority at Winnie Palmer Hospital, as we continue to respond to the community’s needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. All patients and visitors throughout Orlando Health hospitals, EDs and hospital-based ambulatory sites are required to wear a mask during their stay to help prevent respiratory droplet transmission to others. This simple infection control measure significantly reduces the risk of exposure for anyone coming in close contact with a patient. In addition to our standard practices of protecting our tiniest patients, we continue to limit visitors to ensure proper social distancing. Patients at Winnie Palmer Hospital are allowed one adult visitor (18 years or older) and it must be the same visitor for the duration of the patient’s stay. This is applied to the expectant mother’s spouse, partner or other support person.
Orlando Health Visitation Guidelines
Orlando Health has suspended routine visitation in its hospitals until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to the community. The new guidelines, which were developed to enhance the health and safety of patients, visitors and care teams and to support social distancing, apply to all Orlando Health facilities:
- Patients will be allowed one adult visitor (18 years or older) and it must be the same visitor for the duration of the patient’s stay, unless specified otherwise.
- All visitors will be screened and must be absent of symptoms of and exposure to the coronavirus.
- Visitation after 9:00 pm will be suspended except at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies or during emergent situations at all other Orlando Health facilities.
- No visitors will be allowed in rooms of a patient who is suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Exceptions to the guidelines include:
- No visitors will be allowed in the Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital Behavioral Health unit.
- Patients who are under the age of 18 may have two visitors (parents or guardians), who must remain in the patient’s room for the duration of the visit.
- Visitor restrictions in the Neonatal units (NICU) will be communicated directly to parents.
- Patients who are at the end-of-life may have two visitors who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
- Visitors may not remove any supplies or equipment from the hospital.
- All other exceptions to these guidelines must be cleared by the administrator or leader of the specific clinical area.
At Rockledge Regional Medical Center
Steward Family Birthplace at Rockledge Regional Medical has not been impacted by COVID-19. Visitor restrictions are in place throughout our facility. For our birthplace, we are limiting one support person per laboring mother that must be screened. Once they are screened the visitor is allowed to stay with the mother for the entire length of her stay.
For our expectant mothers we remain committed to being accessible through phone or video conferencing, including our pregnancy concierge service which offers expectant mothers a resource for planning, education and pregnancy support starting at 22 weeks. We work with our expectant mothers to complete their birth wishes worksheet that allows them the opportunity to create their personalized birthing experience. Our educators also remain committed to serving our mothers after they deliver with helpful resources for new mothers.