Health-care officials in Edmonton have opened a new clinic meant for pregnant women who have or may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The clinic at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women opened on March 30.
The referral-based clinic is separate from the rest of the hospital, and is for prenatal and postnatal women at 24 gestational weeks or greater who require a prenatal visit while in self-isolation who are: asymptomatic self-isolating, symptomatic COVID-19 suspect, or COVID-19 positive.
Once patients are finished their self-isolation period, they can return to their original health-care provider.
Baker said it’s important that women still be able to get obstetrical care in the later stages of pregnancy.
“Later on in the pregnancy, for many reasons, it is a good idea to get at least a check-in with your provider every two weeks. As a community of prenatal providers, we are trying to do as much as we can to do some of that work over the phone. But there are some things we actually need to physically see you for in person,” said Baker.
Doctors at the clinic will be in full personal protective equipment, including a gown, gloves, mask and goggles or face shield.
Changes to rules during childbirth
Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health have also made changes to rules for patients giving birth in hospital.
Women will now be limited to one family member or support person with them in the delivery room. After delivery, only one healthy adult visitor can come at a time, and no children will be allowed to visit.
Baker said the new rules are meant as an abundance of caution.
“At this point, we do not have any evidence that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy is necessarily any worse than a COVID-19 infection when you’re not pregnant,” she said.
“But looking at other illnesses like influenza and SARS, those illnesses do in fact cause worse outcomes in pregnant women, so we are being cautious.”
Baker added that COVID-19 has not been shown to cross the placenta and there have been no reports of birth defects in women with the virus. There’s also no evidence of transmission through breast milk.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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