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Expectant mothers, doulas push for St. Charles to revise birthing policy

Expectant mothers want their doulas in the delivery room

BEND, Ore. ( KTVZ)-- Due to COVID- 19, St. Charles Bend has put many restrictions on who can enter the hospital. This has greatly affected expecting mothers who want their doula and midwives present during their birthing process.

A Bend couple, Brooke and Zach Boskovich, are 32 weeks pregnant and expecting their first child.

What's supposed to be an exciting experience for them as they grow their family has become quite a scary one, with so many new restrictions in place at St. Charles due to COVID-19.

The Boskoviches hired a doula when they found out Brooke was 10 weeks pregnant, receiving emotional, physical and informational support.

Due to COVID-19, St. Charles is only allowing a single support person to accompany mothers when they give birth -- and in many cases this rules out the doula.

Brooke shared with NewsChannel 21 on Monday how she and her doula have prepared during this time.

"We talk a lot about our wishes through labor. I'm hoping for a natural labor and delivery," Boskovich said. "She would be there to help us navigate as things come up that's unexpected."

Her husband Zach has been working with their doula, learning exercises and routines help her through delivery. He says he's missed some of the important milestones of their pregnancy.

"Because of COVID, I haven't been able to participate in the-20 week ultrasound, and like the big milestones and stuff like that," Boskovich said. "There's a lot of inconsistencies with how they're treating things due to COVID."

The Boskovich family and other doulas are pushing to get St. Charles to revise their policies to consider doulas and midwives as essential health care providers than visitors.

The Oregon Health Authority say doulas can be certified in Oregon as Traditional Health Workers. The requirements are in OAR 410-180-0315. As Traditional Health Workers, they have education requirements, continuing education requirements, background checks and additional regulatory oversight.

Based on the certification requirements and coverage for doulas, OHA would treat them as “outside medical personnel” for purposes of the OHA Interim COVID-19 Visitation Guidance for Acute Care Facilities and as “health care providers” for purposes of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 

Certified Birth Doula Madeline Drescher says in addition to the physical support, doulas help expectant mothers stay home longer, which is ultimately less time of exposure in the hospital.

"It's being able to talk them through all of their options," Drescher said. "We see lower cesarean rates, lower induction rates, less time of baby being in NICU if they have to go -- and then the big one is birth trauma. We see a lot less birth trauma when the doula is allowed to be in the room."

Asked for a response by NewsChannel 21, Dr. Jeff  Absalon, chief physician executive for St. Charles Health System, issued this statement:

“We understand this is a challenging time for our obstetric patients, and we are doing our best to balance the need for support during the birthing process with our need to protect our patients’ and caregivers’ safety," Absalon said.

“Our visitor policy, which is available on our website, allows each obstetric patient to have one visitor accompany them throughout their stay. This is intended to ensure the patient has a support person by their side throughout labor, delivery and recovery, while also reducing risk to our caregivers and other patients throughout our facilities.

"Throughout this pandemic, we have regularly reviewed our policies, and will continue to do so, as the incidence of COVID-19 in our community changes. We very much appreciate our community’s understanding and compliance as all of us continue the fight against COVID-19 together,” Absalon said.

Bend / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Health / Top Stories
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

Comments

9 Comments

  1. these are unprecedented times when all of us need to be patient and pivot. so unfortunate for birthing moms, but certainly those families understand that we also have to protect the health care workers caring for them. we all must sacrifice. hoping this family can deviate from their plans to protect others, including their baby. no one saw this coming. we’re all in this together! certainly they’ll change their plans —– along with everyone else on the globe!

  2. the policy is in place for the protection of staff, patients, new babies. Make an exception for one, you have broken the chain of protection. Makes no sense to allow exceptions regardless of how frustrating the policy is.

  3. Bringing/allowing possibly corona infected people “inside” any hospital is insane !

    Testing must be done off site- satellite trailers like what they have in Prineville.
    Infected go to a separate wing of the hospital and those tending “never” risk cross contamination by entering any other space but what is assigned to them.

    All other hospital operations go on as normal- you don’t have to change policies- hire this- bring in that… this really isn’t that difficult. But when yer looking for more Government funds- well the hoax becomes unmanageable- Oregon has it wrong- Singapore has it right- lemme guess- there are no babies being born there ?

    What says you ?

    1. Modern Hospitals are where people go to die. New Age? Tell me, how did humans survive for 100k years without hospitals? Both my sons were no-fuss home births, covered by insurance, and a fraction of the cost of a hospital, and no DR forcing drugs or surgery on you because he needs that bed back to generate more income for the hospital. You got it twisted.

  4. I thibk this is a little misleading and worth mentioning the midwives (certified nurse midwives that is) are still practicing and have privileges at the hospital.

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