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15th Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Women in labour should remain in car outside hospital if they suspect they are infected

Trine Jensen-Burke


Due in the next few weeks?

If you are set to deliver your baby at the National Maternity Hospital and suspect you might be infected with the novel coronavirus, you will be required to remain in the car outside the building until given personal protective equipment.

Then and only then will you be allowed to enter the building and make your way to the delivery room.

According to Professor Shane Higgins, master of the National Maternity Hospital, patients, including those in active labour, are asked to ring ahead, park outside the entrance of the hospital and ‘beep the horn to alert the medical staff of their arrival.’

If you have any reason to believe you or your partner might be infected with the novel coronavirus, you will need to be triaged in the car first, before being allowed to enter the hospital.

Speaking to the Independent yesterday, Higgins was keen to reassure people that he and his team would continue to work tirelessly to provide safe maternity care in what is an unprecedented public health challenge.

“We are trying as much as possible to remain calm and instil a sense of calm in the patient,” he explained. “We don’t know how challenging this is going to be. We don’t know how serious this is going to be.”

“The message, the professor explains, that he really want patients to be made aware of, is if they think they have the infection, and this is the pre-diagnosis stage, they will need to phone ahead.

“Inform us that they are on their way, and they have symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 infection. And when they then come to the front of the hospital, blow their horn and wait for somebody to come out and give them personal protection equipment.”

Labouring women and their partners are then required to remain in their car outside the hospital rather than come in, and will then be met by the nursing and medical staff and be brought into an isolation area.

“We have isolation areas on the ground floor in our emergency departments where patients will be put into a room where there is negative pressure ventilation. So it’s not blowing the viral particles out of the ward, the corridors, and the rooms.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to keep these patients isolated until we assess them. Any patient who has a cough, shortness of breath or a high temperature or other features suggesting a significant viral infection like a sore throat, aches, and pains they need to phone in advance and let us know.”