COVID-19 brings restrictions to maternity wards

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Soon-to-be parents are now in a panic across the state as hospitals tighten visitor restrictions when it comes to their maternity wards.

COVID-19 is changing delivery days and it’s already having on expecting moms.

“I feel guilty because I’m so thankful that I finally get to have my baby, but everything is so messed up,” says Maggie Summers, a mom-to-be.

It’s been a rough road for Summers and her husband.

“We’ve been doing fertility treatments, we lost two babies, and this one was our miracle baby,” Summers says. “We were even told we would miscarry this baby.”

Recently, COVID-19 has cast a dark cloud on what should be the happiest day of their married life.

“To know that we won’t have any support there, it’s devastating,” Summers says.

Due to the pandemic, just about every hospital across the state has changed their visitor regulations.

“Me as a mother, I want my mother,” says Summers. “I want my mother there.”

Most hospitals are only allowing one visitor, your significant other. Some, like UAMS, have an even stricter policy, posting rules on their Facebook.

“They can have one person who is with them during labor and delivery, but nobody can visit the patients while they are on the floor,” says Dr. Cam Patterson, the Chancellor at UAMS.

Dr. Patterson says the hearbreaking decision is a must.

“The worst thing we could do is have COVID-19 transmitted to a mother or a newborn baby,” says Dr. Patterson.

Despite the hospital’s intention, mothers like Summers say it is still a tough reality to come to grips with.

“It’s just time we won’t get back,” Summers says.

Every hospital we spoke with said rules and regulations are changing daily.

Dr. Cam Patterson made a statement regarding this policy:

In preparation for the much-anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients in Arkansas, UAMS, earlier today, amended temporary coronavirus visitation policies for labor and delivery and postpartum visitation. Those guidelines allowed women giving birth to have one visitor with them during delivery but no visitors after delivery. This afternoon, we amended that policy again to allow one visitor to stay on the post-partum unit for up to 48 hours. That visitor must wear a mask at all times and cannot leave the unit or they won’t be allowed back in. The visitor also must comply with having their temperature taken every four hours as part of a coronavirus screening.

We have heard of instances in which moms and babies were exposed to COVID-19 in hospitals around the country and we are doing all that we can to prevent that from happening at UAMS.  If we do experience a surge,  we may change our policies again to further limit visitors. We are making decisions with the health and welfare of our patients and staff in mind. This is new territory for all of us in health care. We realize that the birth of a baby is a wonderful time and we want our moms and their loved ones to have those memories. We know that after the pandemic has passed we may look back on some of our decisions and regret them. What we don’t want to have happen is to look back and wish that we had made a decision that could have saved lives.Dr. Cam Patterson

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