SPOKANE, Wash — Hospitals around the Inland Northwest are making changes due to the coronavirus outbreak, impacting all areas of care including maternity wards.

At all Providence and MultiCare hospitals, the biggest changes to their maternity wards are their visitor guidelines.

According to Providence Spokesperson Jennifer Semenza, only one person is allowed to be with the mother during her stay at the hospital and all visitors are being screened for symptoms before they enter the hospital.

The visitor guidelines apply at Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family, Mount Carmel and St. Joseph Hospital.

If a mother was planning to have a doula along with the child’s other parent, only one of those people who be allowed to stay with her.

Semenza said they are aware of the nationwide shortage of personal protective gear for their hospital staff but said they have the supplies they need. They are monitoring supplies and “using items wisely,” she said.

If mothers are worried about staffing levels in maternity wards, Semenza said, aside from the dedicated caregivers who normally work in labor and delivery, there is another group of caregivers who work in various departments based on the current census and patient need. They are also monitoring caregivers to make sure they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19.  

MultiCare Spokesperson Kevin Maloney said their hospitals are doing something similar with their visitor protocols. However, expectant mothers at MultiCare hospitals will be allowed one visitor per 24-hour period. He said a doula does not count as a visitor.  

At the Natal Intensive Care Unit at Multicare Deaconess Hospital, patients will be allowed two visitors in a 24 hour period. 

Staff members will be taking visitor’s temperatures and ask them if they have a cough, shortness of breath or symptoms of a cold or flu. They will also be asked if they’ve had contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus. Anyone who answers yes to those questions will be denied access to the hospital, Mahoney said.

These visitor guidelines apply to Valley Hospitals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they do not know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public or whether they are more likely to have a serious illness as a result. They also don’t know if the virus would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.

For more information on coronavirus and pregnancy, head to the CDC website.

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