Virtua Health Cares for Moms & Babies during Coronavirus Outbreak
South Jersey health system implements new policies and online options in response to pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated anxiety around the world, and expectant mothers – particularly those due to deliver in the next few weeks – feel especially unsettled.
Virtua Health understands. As a leader in maternity services that delivers 8,500 babies a year, the South Jersey health system is working with its pregnant patients to discuss their uncertainties and develop care plans that prioritize safety while ensuring a positive experience.
Local Mom Looks Ahead
Dena Moore of Mt. Ephraim, N.J., is a 34-year-old mother to three young boys. She is due to deliver her fourth son on May 21 at Virtua Voorhees Hospital.
“I love Virtua,” she says. “Staying there after delivering my sons was like a little vacation for us.”
Now, amid a global pandemic, Dena has concerns she never could have imagined at the beginning of her pregnancy. Will her husband be allowed to stay by her side? Could she be exposed to the coronavirus while in the hospital?
“I know I’m in good hands, but these questions race around my mind,” Dena says.
Virtua Responds to COVID-19 Crisis
“We have an obligation to the families that turn to us for care,” says Nicole Lamborne, MD, director of women’s health services for Virtua Health. “Their safety is our top priority year-round, and that is heightened during this time of unknowns and unrest.”
As cases of COVID-19 first appeared abroad and in the U.S., Dr. Lamborne and her colleagues began preparing and enacting new policies and precautions.
“Birth is not an elective procedure; there is no pause button. So we need to be diligent, vigilant, and responsive to this situation as it continues to evolve,” Dr. Lamborne says.
One notable policy change is that only one designated support person may accompany the patient into Labor & Delivery. As is standard, this person must be in good health and is required to wash and sanitize his or her hands prior to entering any patient care area.
“We know that many moms like to have more than one loved one be a part of this special moment, such as a mom or sister. Emotionally, we appreciate it. But professionally, we must do what’s necessary to keep people safe,” Dr. Lamborne says. “Once we explain the reason behind our decision, everyone is supportive.”
The restricted visitation policy for Labor & Delivery also applies to the Mother/Baby Unit and High Risk Obstetrics.
Additionally, Virtua has reduced the number of care providers allowed in patient rooms, and all employees wear protective facemasks. Staff and clinicians receive training on the proper use of personal protective equipment, and those practices are monitored for compliance.
Online Maternity Support Services
In order to nurture its connections with expectant mothers both before and after delivery, Virtua has transitioned its tours, classes, and support groups to online formats. This includes interactive courses on childbirth and baby care.
Virtua offers breastfeeding mothers the convenience of a virtual video visit with a board-certified lactation consultant through its easy-to-use, secure, HIPAA-compliant online program. Moms can also connect with one another by joining a web-based breastfeeding support group.
“This virus presents incredible challenges, but our guiding principles and commitment to safety will see us through the weeks and months ahead,” Dr. Lamborne says. “We are ready and eager to bring these new babies into the world. They are a sign of hope for all of us.”
To see a video message from Dr. Lamborne to expectant mothers, please click here.