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Keeping new moms safe

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have needed to take precautions to protect their patients, including the women and children in the maternity ward.

According to Vice-President of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive at Lakeridge Health Oshawa Leslie Motz, a lot has changed in the world of hospitals.

“Most everything that has changed has changed for all of our patients, including our pregnant patients who are coming in to deliver their babies,” says Motz.

She believes the changes made to the maternity ward will resonate with every part of the hospital.

Mom’s and their chosen adult partner, such as the father of the child, are actively screened at the door, and are asked about their history, and to identify any symptoms or complications related to COVID-19.

“What we do which is a little different than in the past, is for labouring moms or moms that are getting ready to give birth, our visitor protocol allows for one person to attend,” explains Motz.

She adds that isn’t consistent with the rest of the hospital’s population, but for the mother’s-to-be there is an exception.

The environment a woman gives birth in is considered very important, as it can lend to their emotional well being during the birth, and even to the health of the mother and the child.

So, Motz explains the hospital has kept the birthing rooms mostly the same.

“The room looks exactly as it would like pre-pandemic, the only difference would be that the care providers would all be consistently masked, whereas pre-pandemic that was not the case,” she explains.

Every employee in Lakeridge Health is masked, and Motz says this would make a difference for the patients.

“That would certainly feel a little different for the patient and their partner,” she says.

After giving birth, many mothers and children will spend time in the hospital, and Motz notes both are protected from the pandemic.

“I think what’s important to note is that we screen everybody coming into our buildings. That is a significant way that we keep our building safe,” she says. “All of our employees… are masked so that is another layer of protection for themselves as well as all patients.”

She adds where it is considered appropriate, personal protective equipment is worn not only to protect the healthcare provider, but also the patients and their loved ones.

Finally, the hospital employees practice social and physical distancing as much as possible.

“That’s something that we are very firm with, not only for ourselves, but also our patients and any designated people who are allowed in the organization,” she explains. “We monitor that very closely.”

She says a mom and a significant other will also wear masks if they are being transferred or moved.

When a patient’s partner isn’t well, Motz says there are a number of ways for the partner to remain involved.

“We certainly make sure that there are a lot of ways they can stay involved by connecting, and that’s through virtual connections. Obviously there’s wifi in the building and everyone has cell phones these days, so there’s lots of FaceTime opportunities as well,” she says.

She adds there are staff who make “friendly visits” to make sure people who feel they don’t have enough company have someone to visit them. The hospital also makes sure every patient has a phone available to them, and if someone is having a hard time, social workers are still available in the building.

Motz adds they know the birth of a child is a very important time in people’s lives, and it’s a family affair, so they try to make sure they can keep everyone involved, even if it’s virtual.

“Everyone that’s really important and part of this celebration, we do our very, very best. Our staff are very focused on family-centric care, and try really hard to make sure that every connection that needs to happen, can, so that they can all be part of this really exciting time despite the difficult situation they’re in,” she says.