Montreal

No partners, doulas allowed on Jewish General Hospital's maternity ward for duration of pandemic

The regional health agency that oversees Montreal's Jewish General Hospital has banned all guests, including parents of babies on the way, from attending a baby's birth or visiting their newborn during the COVID-19 crisis.

No-visitors rule strictly enforced in some hospitals, others, like CHUM and Ste-Justine, review policy daily

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Quebec Health Ministry has left it to each hospital to decide whether the presence of the second parent is permitted during childbirth or after the baby is born. (KieferPix/Shutterstock )

The regional health agency that oversees Montreal's Jewish General Hospital has banned all guests, including parents of newborns or babies on the way, from attending a baby's birth or visiting the maternity ward during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Louise Miner, an obstetrician/gynecologist and head of professional services at the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, announced the news to staff via email Friday.

"This policy will be in effect for the duration of the pandemic," said Miner in the email, obtained by Radio-Canada.

Neither Miner nor the regional health agency responded to interview requests.

However, the new regulation has been posted on the Jewish General's website. It says visitors are not allowed to accompany the patient to their appointments, regardless of whether that visitor is a child, partner or expectant mother's support person.

"For important safety concerns, the partner or a designated person is not permitted at the time of delivery and for the postpartum period," the website states. 

"The partner or a designated person will be allowed to accompany the pregnant women to the triage area and then will be asked to leave the hospital."

Any person that accompanies a woman as far as the triage area must be free of COVID-19 symptoms, cannot have travelled in the previous four weeks and cannot have come into close contact with anyone who has or probably has been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

That person must also have self-isolated for the previous 14 days — meaning no work, travel or social gatherings, the website states.

At the beginning of the crisis, the Jewish General Hospital was designated as the main COVID-19 treatment centre in Montreal for acutely ill adult patients, and a new, temporary clinic composed of six trailers is expected to open on the property soon.

Different rules, depending on hospital

Partners who want to accompany an expectant mother to welcome their child into the world can still have that experience at the CHUM, but officials there are reassessing the rules every day. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Since the start of the health crisis in Quebec, the Health Ministry has left it to each hospital to decide whether the presence of the second parent is permitted during childbirth or after the baby is born.

Given that hospitals and regional health authorities have varying regulations, new parents will have to check with their hospital of choice before the big day comes.

At the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, for example, partners may attend the delivery but cannot be present during the postpartum stay.

However, for that partner to attend a birth, the expectant mother must have undergone a COVID-19 screening test and been declared negative, unless the medical team indicates otherwise. The visitor is not required to have undergone the test.

The CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, which oversees St. Mary's and Lakeshore General Hospital, is allowing a partner or designated person to be present for childbirth. Visitors for caesarean births are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

In the Université de Montréal health network, the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) still allows the second parent to attend a child's birth, but that decision is reassessed every day, a hospital spokesperson confirmed Friday.

The same goes for the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, the largest mother and child centre in Canada.

With files from Radio-Canada

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