Partners were permitted to accompany pregnant Clare women for their 12-week scan in University Maternity Hospital Limerick on Friday afternoon.
The gradual easing of partner restrictions follows new guidance issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on August 5th in respect of the 12-week scan and c-section. University Maternity Hospital Limerick already facilitates partner access for elective and emergency sections.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the UL Hospitals’ Group confirmed patients with scheduled appointments over the next three weeks will be contacted by phone and offered the opportunity to attend a separate dating scan appointment with one accompanying person.
For new appointments going forward a GP letter will be assessed, the patient will be offered two appointments, a dating scan appointment and an antenatal clinic appointment with an explanation of the difference in both appointments, and clearly stating which appointment their accompanying person can attend.
As is current practice a member of the midwifery team working from home will contact the patient by phone prior to the dating scan appointment to update medical history.
The UL Hospitals’ Group acknowledge that the continuing Covid-19 partner access restrictions are difficult for service users and their loved ones and the group continue to review these safety measures at UMHL on a weekly basis.
The group continue to plan for the safe, controlled and phased relaxation of restrictions, and to ensure all processes are safely introduced and managed.
The group are reorganising its service to ensure compliance with the new guidance around the 12-week scan, and this allowed partners to attend for this scan from Friday afternoon, August 13th. This involves offering women a separate ultrasound appointment which would previously have taken place on the same day as their antenatal appointment.
Women who are booked in to the ante-natal clinic over the next three weeks are being contacted by the hospital to offer an alternative date for the 12-week scan, which will allow their partner or one accompanying person to be present for the scan.
UMHL allows partners in the following areas, regardless of vaccination status, following the Covid-19 questionnaire and temperature screening.
They include the labour ward – throughout labour and delivery, elective and emergency c-section, anomaly scan, Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, compassionate grounds, antenatal ward – 45 minute slots, postnatal ward – 45 minute slots (NICU) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit / (HDU) High Dependency Unit)– 30 minutes slots, emergency high risk admissions,12-week scan.
In adopting the updated national guidance, the group seek to balance the competing requirements for partners to be present and supporting women, while giving priority to the safety, welfare and privacy of all women and infants in our care, and staff.
In taking decisions to implement or relax restrictions, UMHL has regard to three primary factors: the rate of Covid-19 transmission within the local community, the number of staff in the hospital and the possibility of those staff becoming unwell, and the infrastructure of the hospital site. More recently, the group particularly note the concerns nationally and internationally about the transmissibility of the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
While these restrictions have been difficult, they have been necessary, and effective.The group are grateful for the cooperation of patients and their families and the broader community. Thanks to their sacrifices, they ensured there has been no outbreak of Covid-19 in UMHL.