After miscarrying alone, Saskatoon mother questions hospital visitor restrictions

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WATCH: A support person is allowed to be present for the birth of a child, but a Saskatoon woman says she couldn't have her husband by her side while she was losing one – Jun 19, 2020

Amber Fischer sat in a room full of people while she suffered a miscarriage, feeling completely alone.

Cramping and bleeding, Fischer said she went to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital with her husband on May 24.

She said a nurse told her husband he couldn’t go into the emergency room with her, as a safety precaution in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Some visitor restrictions eased at Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities

“It was something I was going to have to do on my own,” Fischer told Global News. “We weren’t going to be able to grieve together at that moment.”

She was 12 weeks along.

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Fischer said there weren’t any beds available in the emergency department, so she was told to sit in the waiting room.

About an hour into the wait, the bleeding got heavier.

“I could feel it going through my pants,” she said, noting she realized just how much blood she was losing when she went to the bathroom.

“That’s when they came and checked on me. They could hear me upset and (a nurse) came in and got me to come back to sit in a chair and wait.”

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It was the first time someone had checked on her since she was admitted, Fischer said.

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She was told she’d be put in the next bed that became available.

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“It was still about half an hour before I was moved into a bed … and was actively losing my baby at that point,” she said.

The care she received after the wait was excellent, Fischer said, but she’s frustrated the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) visitation policy made an already traumatic experience worse.

Because of the pandemic, patients in SHA facilities can have a visitor only for “compassionate reasons,” including end-of-life and critical care. The decision is based on the discretion of the care team.

In a statement to Global News, the SHA said it’s continually assessing the effects of temporary visitation restrictions.

“We know that the visitor restrictions put in place in our facilities as part of the response to COVID-19 have been difficult for some patients during a time that they may feel vulnerable and unwell,” the statement reads.

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority is committed to returning to open family presence as soon as it is safe to do so.”

READ MORE: 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Why do women still feel guilty?

It’s not just pandemic policies that need to change, Fischer said.

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People who may be experiencing a miscarriage shouldn’t have to wait for care in a room full of strangers, she said. Instead, she said those patients could wait in the antepartum ward, for example, with regular check-ins from a nurse.

“Some people don’t have any support ever,” Fischer said. “To go through that experience (with) no one checking on them, no one talking to them, … sitting in a room full of strangers while it’s happening … is not a good policy.”

Fischer said she wanted to share her experience so other people who experience miscarriages know they’re not alone.

“It’s very common, but still, nobody really talks about it,” she said.

She said she’s started healing over the past few weeks with the help of family, along with a support group on Facebook.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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