Update: As of November 19th, BC has issued province-wide restrictions that will be in effect until January 8th. These include no non-essential travel outside one’s community and no social gatherings of any size. You can read the ordinance here.
Below is information about Covid-19, including changes we’ve made to our clinic as a result of Coronavirus, changes made at VGH, current best practice guidelines, and additional resources. We will try to keep this page as up-to-date as we can. As always, the health and safety of our clients is at the top of our minds as we contemplate best practice during this time.
We have made the following changes to our clinic in order to help slow the spread of Covid-19 – to protect all our clients and the entire community.
Prenatal and Postpartum Clinic Visits:
- We have slightly adjusted our visit frequency. To guide this decision, we are using the World Health Organization guidelines recommending the optimal number of prenatal appointments for a positive outcome. This schedule is currently endorsed by BC-CDC and Perinatal Services BC. This includes:
- Intake visit via phone or Zoom at approximately 8 wks gestation
- An in-person visit at 13-14 weeks gestation
- Three visits in the second trimester via phone/zoom or in person (around 18, 23, and 28 weeks)
- Frequent visits in the third trimester -may be phone/zoom or in person (31, 34, 36, 37-41 weeks)
- Postpartum visits: hospital or home visits as needed during your first week postpartum.
- Follow-up postpartum clinic visits at 2, 4 & 6 weeks postpartum.
- Phone calls for any concerns in between visits as usual.
- If your appointment is an in-person clinic or home visit, we will first contact you via phone or Zoom for the discussion portion of our visit. After we have answered all questions and provided relevant information for the visit, we will either invite you into the clinic (for a clinic visit) or come into your home (for a postpartum home visit).
- Please know that prior to coming into clinic or into your home we will ask:
- Do you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?
- Have you been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- Have you traveled outside of BC in the last 14 days?
- Have you been instructed in the last 14 days to self-isolate?
- If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, we will need to make an alternate plan.
- Per current BC medical directive, you must wear a medical mask (blue/white surgical mask) during clinic visits. If you do not have a medical mask, we will supply you with one. Please store it in a paper bag and bring it to each clinic visit to reduce waste.
- We are requesting that you attend the in-person component of each visit alone. We know this is difficult. We recognize that the pregnancy journey is a family journey. However, partners can be part of all zoom/phone conversations, and you are welcome to record the fetal heart tones for your partner or put them on speaker phone for the short in-person component of each visit. In this way, partners can continue to be part of all discussion and decision-making in the pregnancy and postpartum period.
- We have also significantly modified the setup and cleaning frequency of our clinic to minimize the chance of exposure for all. Equipment and furniture in the clinic room are being sanitized between every client, and all high-traffic areas are being wiped down with antiviral solution frequently throughout the day. We have removed all toys, books, cups & tea/water station, and unnecessary furniture.
- Births at VGH
For the health and safety of all hospital patients, VGH L&D has instituted the following changes:
- Only 2 support people are allowed to attend each labouring person. Both support people must be wearing a medical mask at all times.
- No friends and family are allowed in the waiting area on L&D.
- Only 1 support person is allowed on Mother-Babe, and it must be the same person for the duration of the postpartum hospital stay.
- No visitors are allowed on Mother-Babe. Only parents are allowed into the NICU.
- We ask you to limit the amount of support persons at home to two, and we ask that all support people remain masked.
- Currently we are asking clients not to birth in water due to concerns regarding Covid-19 transmission.
Please consider ways in which you can decrease the likelihood that you and your supports will be exposed to COVID-19 and other viruses. You are strongly encouraged to practice self isolation for the 2 weeks before your due date. Your partner / support person is encouraged to minimize their exposure to others in the community and their workplace.
General Pregnancy, L&D, and Postpartum Guidelines regarding Covid-19
- The Government of Canada’s current advisory on Covid-19 in pregnancy can be read here. In addition, the 3 leading organizations for Obstetrics and Gynecology have recently published Covid-19 practice advisories. You can read them here:
- The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- These are the key highlights from all 3 of these key organizations:
- The majority of pregnant people who contract Covid-19 have a mild course of illness. Current data do not suggest an increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in healthy pregnant women compared to non-pregnant reproductive-aged women.
- Covid-19 transmission to the baby in pregnancy seems unlikely. There have been a few case reports of possible transmission in pregnancy. Again, there is very limited data.
- To date, there is currently no conclusive data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19.
- There is no evidence that the virus has been found in the breast milk of people infected with Covid-19. In the light of the current evidence, it is advised that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breastmilk.
- Canadian pediatric policies support keeping mom & babe together, even in situations where the birthing person has tested positive for Covid-19 or is symptomatic. All babies born to COVID-19 positive mothers should have appropriate close monitoring and early involvement of neonatal care, where necessary. Babies born to people testing positive for COVID-19 will need follow-up and ongoing check-ups after discharge from the hospital. A mother with confirmed Covid-19 or who is symptomatic with flu like symptoms should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the infant, including washing hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while breastfeeding.
Other tips and information:
- Wondering if you need to swab or self-isolate for Covid-19? Take the Covid-19 Self-Assessment Tool (We suggest downloading the free app for your phone.)
- If you have any symptoms of Covid-19 including fever >38c, chills, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste, headache, muscle ache, and/or GI symptoms do not come to clinic but instead please call Island Health Call Centre at 1-844-901-8442 (Monday-Sunday 8:30am-4:30 pm), where you will be triaged to a testing centre. Current BC guidelines support testing anyone with symptoms, even mild symptoms. Anyone who is symptomatic & needing urgent obstetrical assessment will be assessed at VGH.
- As a reminder, the best way to protect ourselves and our community from Covid-19 are really simple:
- Hand-washing – Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after touching your face, before eating, and after using the washroom. This is the best way to prevent transmission of any virus. If a sink is not available, the next best option is hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content.
- Avoid touching your face if possible. COVID-19 and other viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing, but also by touching surfaces that the virus is living on and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose immediately. Alternatively, folks can cough or sneeze into their sleeve.
- Physical Distancing—As much as reasonably possible, keep two arms-lengths (one yours, one the other person) apart from others.
- For additional information on Covid-19, please see the following websites:
- BCCDC COVID 19
- HealthLink BC COVID 19
- VIHA COVID19
- Health Canada COVID 19
- Travel advisory notice: The B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer is still advising no non-essential travel. Anyone choosing to travel out of country will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
- Workplaces all have a responsibility to ensure that they are following current safe guidelines. Like essential services during the pandemic, all employers must demonstrate that they can operate safely. If you feel that your workplace is not meeting these requirements, please contact WorkSafe BC for support.
- Anxiety and coping with the COVID outbreak: Many of you may feel overwhelmed with the rapidly changing news reports about the spread of COVID.
- You can read more about coping strategies here, here, and here.
- Many local counsellors offer remote consults – get in touch with one if you feel you need more support.
- Many people successfully use Mindfulness-based stress reduction to manage anxiety.
- The Canadian Mental Health Association has free online supports here, including Bounce Back BC.
- Anxiety Canada has some great advice about managing Covid-19 related anxiety. (For instance: don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re experiencing more anxiety than usual.)
Thank you for your understanding during this time. We recognize that this is a changing situation, and our guidelines may change to reflect best practice recommendations as they continue to evolve. Please do not hesitate to call our office at 250-590-7605 if you have any concerns.
“Be kind, be calm, be safe.”
–Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry