Baylor Scott & White: COVID-19 Information for Labor and Delivery Patients
Many Austin mothers-to-be are wondering how COVID-19 will affect their labor and delivery. For those of you who have contacted Austin Expecting with your questions, and for all of you feeling the anxiety of giving birth during these uncertain times, we have reached out to Austin hospitals to find out what local mothers can expect from their labor and delivery experience. Baylor Scott & White has provided the following information.
Updated May 6, 2020
At Baylor Scott & White, there is nothing more important to us than the well-being of our patients and staff and the broader health of our communities. We know that expectant mothers and their loved ones are likely experiencing a range of emotions in this time of heightened awareness about COVID-19, and we are committed to helping them navigate the uncertainty of this virus.
As the knowledge we have about this virus is based on fewer than 100 days of experience, we are carefully watching the latest research and guidance coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we would like to thank our providers and staff, whose vigilance and dedication to evidence-based infection prevention practices are the backbone of our efforts to maintain a safe care environment. We will continue to modify our response protocols as the needs within our community evolve.
Our hospitals and birthing centers remain open and available for mothers-to-be. We want to encourage pregnant women, especially those whose pregnancies are considered high-risk, to continue following their appointment schedule to ensure mom and baby are both healthy.
Many providers are now offering alternatives – such as virtual options – to continue care during this season of physical distancing. We encourage expectant mothers to contact their provider’s office for instructions on upcoming appointments.
According to the CDC, expectant mothers should follow the same guidelines as the general public to avoid infection. More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
- Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
- Avoid people who are sick
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contain at least 60% alcohol
- Maintain six-feet distancing
- Use cloth face coverings
Our dedicated Labor & Delivery teams continue to evaluate individual circumstances and cater to birth plans to best keep mother and baby healthy. We are committed to providing the highest level of care, while also implementing changes to protect mothers, babies, their family and our care providers from increased exposure to COVID-19.
At this time, very little is known about COVID-19, particularly related to its effect on pregnant women and infants. Until more data is collected, we believe the best interest of our expectant families is served by considering pregnant women and newborns an at-risk population for COVID-19. The approaches for this population are intentionally cautious until additional data become available to refine recommendations for prevention of person-to-person transmission in obstetric care settings.
In line with this approach, our labor and delivery rooms are ready and reserved exclusively for moms when the time comes for delivery.
We understand the importance of having the support of loved ones during a hospital visit or stay and the importance of protecting the health and safety of our patients and caregivers during this unprecedented pandemic. Baylor Scott & White has evaluated visitor procedures and recently moved to a temporary “no visitor” policy. Our priority is to reduce transmission risk among our care team members, patients and the community, and to protect individuals who are at a higher risk for adverse health complications. We encourage virtual visitations using personal mobile devices.
There are a few exceptions to our temporary “no visitor” policy, including expectant mothers or women giving birth, who are permitted to be accompanied by one care partner, and patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Overnight visitations are allowed for pediatric patients and women in the labor and delivery and postpartum units. Visitors must be screened before entering the facility. The “no visitor” policy at Baylor Scott & White applies to midwives and photographers.
Decreasing close proximity interactions with as many individuals as possible will assist with protecting mothers, babies, their family and our care providers from increased exposure to COVID-19. For this reason, we are temporarily changing the way providers perform newborn exams. During the hospital stay, providers will be wearing a mask and examining newborns near the door of patient rooms as precautionary measures. We ask that mothers and their visitors maintain at least six feet of distance from their provider during the visit. Providers will happily share updates and answer questions either from the doorway or by telephone.
Patients will be screened before entering the facility. If a pregnant patient is experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, is confirmed positive for COVID-19 or is a person under investigation for COVID-19, she should notify the obstetric unit prior to arrival so the facility can make appropriate infection control preparations. She will be treated by our teams who follow CDC guidelines and recommendations for treating patients with high-consequence infectious diseases. As we learn more about the disease, protocols will continue to evolve.
Screening and Testing
For those who have questions or concerns about their risk of infection with COVID-19, Baylor Scott & White has options. It is important to note that the following options are for patients not experiencing a medical emergency. In the event of an emergency, we instruct patients to call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.
Baylor Scott & White has a free online screening questionnaire available on the MyBSWHealth app and online at MyBSWHealth.com. The results of this questionnaire may give reassurance about low risk with recommendations for hygiene and physical distancing or may recommend further evaluation for those with more significant risk. If a patient receives notification that he or she should seek additional evaluation, MyBSWHealth gives options for next steps. For example, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., eVisits with providers can be conducted.
As has been widely reported, healthcare providers are working to conserve testing capabilities for those most at risk. Therefore, at the discretion of our care providers, in line with CDC guidelines, patients who are experiencing mild symptoms suspected to be related to COVID-19 infection are given guidance to treat at home with rest and hydration and to take precautions for distancing and isolating from others, when possible. This website might be helpful: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
As recommended by the CDC, it is important for those treating mild symptoms at home to be watchful for the development of emergency warning signs of secondary conditions related to COVID-19 and get medical attention immediately for any symptoms that are severe or concerning.
How You Can Help
During this unprecedented time, we are faithfully serving those who need us most, and we are even more humbled when the community responds with acts of kindness, bringing innovative and creative solutions to help our patients and staff. It’s inspiring to be part of a community with a strong desire to make a difference.
We have received a number of offers of support from the public and organized groups willing to get involved in several different ways. Our organizations have developed a website for those who are interested in learning more: BSWHealth.com/COVID19Donations
At Baylor Scott & White, we are honored to have worked with so many families over the years, and it is our priority to exceed our patients’ expectations for safe, high quality care when they choose to deliver at our facilities – even during this unprecedented time. Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you now more than ever as you await your delivery day. We wish you a safe, healthy pregnancy.