Even in the midst of a global pandemic, mother-to-be Jenn Bullock has no reservations about the safety and care she’ll receive at the Birth Care Center at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital.
“The medical professionals are giving it their all,” Bullock said. “They’re still coming into work every day. They’re doing everything they can to make sure patients aren’t being impacted more than necessary during this time.
“Obviously, I’m a little bit biased.”
Bullock knows as well as anyone the commitment to safety and comfort exhibited every day by the medical team at St. Luke’s. She has worked there as an RN for the past two and-a-half years. When her due date arrives mid-May, she will transition from caregiver to care recipient.
As medical professionals continue to learn more about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Birth Care Center has taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of patients, newborns, and hospital team members. On April 17, St. Luke’s Hospital implemented a policy in which all pregnant women who plan to deliver at the Birth Care Center would be tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Dustin Arnold, Chief Medical Officer at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, said the decision came after a study found approximately 20 percent of more than 200 women who went through labor and delivery in Long Island, New York, were asymptomatic.
“We’re all wearing face shields and masks when doing patient care, so the risk of transmission in the hospital is significantly less,” said Dr. Arnold. “This really was a thought to protect mom and the baby as they go home to know whether or not the mom may be an asymptomatic carrier.”
The policy also protects team members, some of whom may be at higher risk for complications if they were to contract the virus. Expectant women who come to the hospital are met by a screener at the door while patients who have scheduled c-sections and inductions get tested 72 hours before they come to the unit, so results are already available.
Protecting Moms and Babies
“I think it’s a peace of mind for the moms who are bringing these brand-new babies into the world,” Bullock said. “It’s nice to have the reassurance that, when I’m bringing my baby into this world, I do not have the virus.
“I think it’s also a good thing for the health care professionals,” Bullock continued. “We have a lot of systems in place, a lot of protocols, to keep us safe while we’re taking care of patients. But it’s nice for us to know, when we were taking care of these patients, they tested negative. They were not a high risk for exposing us to the virus. So, it gives peace of mind to both sides.”
Tiffany Van Hyfte also has a dual perspective on this added safety policy. She began working as an RN in the Birth Care Center in March of 2020 – and is expecting to deliver her first child there in June.“I have no hesitation of delivering there during a pandemic,” Van Hyfte said. “I know that everything will go well and they have the right parameters in place.”
“We take precautions with every patient,” Dr. Arnold added.
A worldwide pandemic isn’t the environment Jenn Bullock envisioned for the delivery of her first child. But she’s comforted by the safety precautions that she knows are in place, and she’s well aware of the added historical significance of her family’s upcoming big event.
“How do I explain that you were one of the coronavirus babies?” she said. “Honestly, I don’t think the virus is going to immediately go away. So, I think they will be familiar enough with the situation and how it went that it will just be an extra-special thing in their history, kind of like, you were born during this time and everything was OK.”
We invite you to learn why three out of four babies born in Cedar Rapids are delivered at St. Luke’s. Take a virtual tour of our facility today at bit.ly/UPHCRBaby.
Also UnityPoint Health has created a special certificate for babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's where you can download it and print it off.