What to Expect: Delivering at Crouse During a Pandemic

By: Laurie Clark

pregnant womanMore babies are born each year at Crouse Health than any other area hospital, and we’re honored you’ve chosen to deliver with us.

Having a baby is an exciting time, but due to the COVID-19 virus, many parents-to-be are feeling anxious about coming into the hospital. Our Kienzle Family Maternity Center team has not missed a beat, and has been delivering babies throughout the pandemic with the same level of safe, compassionate care families have experienced at Crouse for generations.

Before You Arrive
For the two weeks prior to your anticipated due date, we recommend you quarantine as best you can. You’ll be tested for COVID-19 upon your arrival (more on that below), so limiting your interactions in the community will keep you and your family safe.

“Get your groceries delivered if you’re able and try to ‘close your circle’ to others, as you prepare for your little one’s arrival,” says Crouse obstetrician Cathy Berry, MD.

Having your hospital bag ready is always important when you’re expecting, but our team recommends a few additions to ensure you’re comfortable when you arrive, as your support person will be unable to leave the hospital once you’ve checked in.

“Plan to bring everything you’ll need for the duration of your stay. This includes any food you may want and your baby’s car seat,” says Brynne Stockton, MSN, RN, labor and delivery nurse manager.

If you’ll be using a doula or midwife for your delivery, they will be able to be present, in addition to your support person.

Upon Your Arrival
When you arrive at Crouse, you and your support person will be screened at the hospital’s entry point and given face masks. You’ll head to the Labor and Delivery Unit on 8 Irving. Once you’re settled in your room, you will be tested for COVID-19. Your support person will not be tested, but he or she will be screened approximately every 12 hours with a temperature and symptom check.

“We don’t want you to worry about testing positive,” says Director of Women and Infant Services Betty O’Connor, MS, RN. “It changes protocol for our staff, in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). But you’ll still be able to room in with your baby. You can still breastfeed if you choose. Our care for you and your baby will not change if you test positive.”

On the Labor and Delivery Unit
When you get settled in your labor and delivery room, we ask that you and your support person (and doula/midwife, if applicable) keep your masks on whenever a member of our staff enters.

“Masking is vitally important to protect our healthcare workers,” O’Connor says. Dr. Berry adds, “We may not be able to connect as we normally would with patients because of face masks and shields, but it’s for everyone’s safety.”

If you test negative for COVID-19, you will still be able to walk the halls during your labor, which many patients find helpful as a form of pain management. You will, of course, have to keep your mask on as you do so.  If you test positive, you’ll need to remain in your room for the duration.

We want all parents-to-be to know that our staff is here to help you in any way possible and to make your time at Crouse as comfortable as we can. If you bring meals or snacks that need to be refrigerated, please bring a cooler. The nurses or nursing assistants on the unit can get ice for your cooler. If you order food to be delivered, someone from the unit can retrieve it from the hospital’s main lobby.

While you’re in the labor and delivery room, as well as when you go down to the postpartum (recovery) floor, you will have the ability to order meals from our room service menu. Because partners cannot visit the cafeteria, they are also able to order from the menu and pay with a debit or credit card. You can ask your nurse for assistance with this process if needed.

During and Immediately After Labor
As you’re in active labor and it’s time to push, we do ask that you try to wear your mask the entire time. All of the healthcare staff in the room will be wearing masks and PPE as well.

If you require a Cesarean-section, our maternity unit has operating rooms on the floor so you won’t need to deliver in our main OR. Additionally, if you’re COVID-positive and need a C-section, we do have a negative pressure OR available.

Should your baby need the help of our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (on 9 Irving), you can expect the highest level of care. We are a Regional Perinatal Center, caring for the moms and babies in a 14-county region. “Our NICU team is always ready, willing and able to help,” says Betty O’Connor, adding that parents will still be able to visit despite the pandemic.

Postpartum and Discharge
After your baby is born, you’ll be taken to our postpartum unit on 7 Irving for the remainder of your stay. We have 37 rooms available on the unit, and you will (typically) have the room to yourself and your support person. You’ll be discharged to go home within two to three days.

Your support person is able to stay with you the whole time on the postpartum unit and we encourage that you “room in” with your baby, even if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

Our lactation team is available for breastfeeding assistance and to answer any questions you have. We do encourage breastfeeding, even if you test positive. Our team will provide you with some additional instructions if you have the virus.

If your support person has to leave for any reason before you’re discharged, he or she will not be able to come back into the hospital for your discharge, when your nurse will review care instructions for you and baby (you are welcome to call or Facetime). When it’s time for your discharge, he or she can pull up to the front of the hospital and a member of our staff will bring you to the car.

During your pregnancy and through delivery and discharge, we encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

“Our maternity staff is incredibly accommodating and policies are constantly changing” says Kathleen Miller-Murphy, RN, director of women’s services. You can always feel free to contact our maternity team with any questions regarding your upcoming delivery, and visitation policy updates are available on our website.

We hope this information eases any anxieties you may have about having a baby during these uncertain times. The health and safety of you and your baby remain the highest priority for all of us at Crouse.

>FAQs: Delivering During a Pandemic
>Find a Crouse OB Provider
>Learn more about the Kienzle Family Maternity Center
>Learn more about the Baker Regional NICU

Information as of December 30, 2020. Subject to change.

Laurie Clark is the Communications and Digital Media Coordinator at Crouse Health.

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