It has been a little while since I have sent an update around COVID-19. I think that is a good thing, because it does mean that we haven't seen some of the disasters that have occurred elsewhere in the world just yet.
We have seen some amazing changes with women flocking toward home birth during this time and have over the last 24 hours welcomed three baby's into the world. We are welcoming staff back from maternity leave and other leave, and have brought Leanne Chapman into the Toowoomba team. Thus, we are trying to have as many staff available as possible to meet the demand on our services. Our online resources have expanded and we want to make sure you can access these so please speak to your midwife if you have any difficulties. This includes material on the Thompson method which is available for mums on Ultimate Care and those who have done classes. All our resources are just extra's and are not designed to replace individualised care from your midwife.
Today I just want to let you know that we are easing back from some of our restrictions, but we still need to remain vigilant. We are still asking you to just bring essential people only to your appointments and where possible to leave your children at home. We know that this is hard, so obviously if you need to bring them we understand, but we also ask you to let us know in advance so we can have enough time between appointments if necessary. We are doing most of the visits now back in the clinics but still have telehealth accessible for your convenience or for times where you may be unwell. We still ask if you have a fever, cold-like symptoms of any type, or a cough that you do not come into the clinic and that you let your midwives know.
Warmest wishes and stay safe.
We have now enrolled the vast majority of our Ultimate Care and antenatal clients into the Robyn Thompson breastfeeding support program. We are thrilled to be partnered with Robyn and her team in this exciting initiative. Michelle Devenish from our Brisbane practice will also be in touch via email as the link between us and the Thompson team and she will introduce herself and encourage contact with her to support the links and so forth.
We are offering a vast array of different options from telehealth and phone calls, face to face visits at home and in our clinics and from next week will also offer drive in options to have your physical checks completed in your car with the midwives then offering you a telehealth consultation or some face to face time outside the clinic. These options depend on your needs, the midwives availability, what the team can support locally in terms of space and access and how you are feeling on the day. Please let your midwife know how you are going. We do recognise it is hard for all of you, and we also want the communication to be a two way street where there are problems.
Thanks for your patience and we hope you are all doing well.
Thank you for checking these updates regularly. It is saving us considerable time and effort in updating you individually if you are reading.
Our midwives are very precious as you all know. We are using as many strategies as possible to keep them safe and well to ensure they are available to you.
We are keen for you to help us with that. Self-assessment of you and your partner before contact with our midwives for ANY health issues (not just suspected Covid-19) is essential. Any cold or flu symptoms or fever mean that you cannot attend face to face. We recognise flu season is fast approaching – if any of our team get unwell they will be placed in isolation restricting their ability to provide care. We may ask you to take your temperature prior to coming to the clinic, prior to home visits and prior to contact during labour. We ask you to consider whether you have been in contact with large groups of people, people who have recently travelled, or with a confirmed case of covid-19.
Our home visits will be set up to ensure minimal contact time in close proximity. This may include the midwife dropping some equipment and doing a telehealth consultation. It may include doing a visit, or part of a visit, outside the house to any level that you feel comfortable i.e. sitting in chairs on the lawn. It may include having some of our equipment in plastic bags that are changed so that we can quickly move from client to client. Some of our midwives will choose to wear face masks and other PPE at visits. This is mainly where their own family group includes an at risk group. It is not designed to reflect that we think you pose a risk - we are taking no risks with our own and our family’s wellbeing.
Women planning a home birth will be asked to take further measures, mainly due to the fact that our midwives will be close to you, in your own home, for much longer periods. Hospital births may also require several extra levels of protection. We are keeping some of our team in isolation each week to ensure we have midwives available to you. I do understand that this possibly makes continuity more difficult, however we are closely following this and I encourage you to reach out to me if this is a problem
There are many rumours circulating about changes to birthing facilities and to various aspects of hospital protocols. Please do not take these as truth. We are keeping completely on top of the information at all our birthing hospitals and will provide this to you regularly.
In terms of some of our billing strategies, in order to get your maximum rebate back quickly we are asking for your labour and birth fee at 36 weeks (rather than your postnatal fee). This means that immediately upon birthing you will get your Medicare rebate. Previously you have had to wait until both the labour and birth and postnatal invoices were paid off to receive this rebate. Our goal is to have money back to you as quickly as possible so we hope that this will help. Due to our current level of debtors we are enforcing that from April 1 this birth fee must be paid in order for your midwife to attend your birth so please reach out to us if there are any challenges for you.
Please contact read the updates frequently, reach out to your midwife when you need to. Do some light exercise and stress reduction at home and stay away from others in the challenging time.
We recognise how difficult this time is for all of our clients and their families. It is very difficult to consider how issues will evolve over the coming days however I need to provide updates as we move forward in the Covid-19 situation.
Hospitals have now restricted support people in labour to only 1 person and in some cases they are not allowing visitors in the postnatal unit at all. Please speak to your midwife about this. There is a very limited ability to negotiate on this as there are public health policies now on this.
Some hospitals are restricting or prohibiting the use of Nitrous Oxide (the gas) due to concerns related to the airborne nature of Covid-19. Please discuss this with your midwife.
Specific facilities have made a decision today to restrict water immersion and water birth. This does not impact all facilities. Again, please discuss this with your midwife.
We have been advised to try to limit all contact with the hospital system due to the increased risk this presents to healthy people. At this stage this mainly relates to visits to the antenatal clinics for routine aspects of care. Please discuss with your midwives individual circumstances.
Due to the many restrictions, we are facing, we also are trying to keep our midwives healthy. There is a high rate of transmission to health care workers including midwives internationally. As a company, we are taking several steps including:
The rotational distancing of midwives out of the clinics and providing the only telehealthcare to ensure availability for labour and birth
Midwives only providing short direct face to face consultations for physical checks and providing longer consultations via telehealth
Availability of scales, dopplers, tape measures and urine sticks for monitoring situations under telehealth guidance
Midwives changing clothes, shoes, wearing gloves (and other personal protective equipment such as masks where necessary) when attending home visits or hospital visits
Spacing appointments in the clinic to allow time for cleaning and to adhere to social distancing requirements for the protection of both midwives and clients
Asking clients to avoid bringing support people unless necessary
Asking clients to not bring children into any of the clinics
We will be asking you to meet additional midwives as back up due to the significant possibility of illness or possible isolation requirements for our teams. We are asking our midwives to socially distance from each other for the same reason. This may cause some disruption in your level of continuity however we believe it is unavoidable and will, in the long run, benefit our clients as a whole. Please contact me if you have any difficulty with this as the administration team are following my direction.
We are happy to do visits where possible by telehealth but will also need to conduct face to face visits at some points. Mostly we will offer home or clinic visits. In the clinic we are cleaning every surface after every client. We have increased formal cleaning and have removed any surface that is difficult to clean. We will respect your choices and will advise what is possible for each visit in an individualised way.
Additionally due to increased staffing requirements for birth at home we ask you to discuss with your midwife as soon as practice to ensure we have sufficient resources.
As the situation develops over the coming weeks and months, I will continue to update this page regularly, potentially daily where needed.
We thank you very much for your support. Please stay safe by staying at home as much as possible.
We are updating you as frequently as we can around the developing situation with COVID-19.
The situation is evolving daily. We will continue to update you as frequently as needed.
All fabric and furnishing which are unable to be wiped over with bleach have been removed from our clinical rooms. This means that our normally relaxed rooms will look very different. This may be confronting, but will be temporary until we receive advice as to the peak of the situation has resolved.
At times, our staff may need to be wearing clothes that can be changed frequently and may not be in business dress. The clothes may look older, or staff may be wearing hospital style 'scrubs'. This does not mean that they have been in contact with anyone infective, it is just part of recommended preventative strategies.
Due to additional social distancing measures announced this afternoon (20/3) we are restricting the number of people in our clinics to increase the ability to distance. As a health facility we are exempt from some requirements but we are asking you to consider yourselves, those around you and us in social distancing measures. This means you may be asked to have one support person and if that is not essential coming alone is preferred. You can take the option of home visiting or telehealth and you also may request the option to have a midwife come to you where possible so that your partner or children can be involved in your care. Of course, we also will be asking you let us know prior to coming to the clinic or us coming to you if you have any signs of fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.
We are also asking if you have had contact with anyone who has entered the country in the last two weeks, even prior to the social isolation rules, to let us know. Contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases means you would already be in isolation and we obviously need to be advised of this.
We are cancelling all classes and gatherings after our Saturday class in Melbourne. As of Monday our classes will be available with passwords online. These will be continued with education sessions with the midwives at the time your class is due to be undertaken either face to face or through a video conferencing mechanism. We will also ensure that you have opportunities for extra appointments and home education if this is needed. All of these options will be individualised to meet your needs.
At this stage, we have stock available for purchase, however we do expect that stocks may decrease and may become harder to get. Please consider items such as our TENS machines, breast pumps, Drion pads and so forth. Sam and Tracey will be able to assist you if you need additional products as we are waiting on nipple balm, Haaka pumps and some of the items for the various packs we sell.
We have received communication from most hospitals indicating that they are only allowing one support person into the birth suite with you. Whilst we will do our best to increase this where needed, we also ask you to recognise the pressures on hospitals. This will impact the use of doula’s, birth photographers and attendance of people other than your partner. We ask you to discuss this with your midwife at your next visit where this impacts you.
At this stage we are experiencing a high level of demand for birth outside of hospital both from our existing clients and those wanting to engage us for care. Whilst we recognise that this may be a very reasonable choice, it requires careful consideration around a range of elements including distance to hospital. There are also financial considerations as at this stage there is no Medicare rebate for birth at home. If you would like to discuss this option please raise this as soon as possible with your midwife. Every effort is being made to keep women in hospital for a little time as possible and our continuity service allows for home visiting in the postnatal period every day.
Many of you will have pregnant friends and family members. Please let them know that if they are having care from another care provider and need online education or other services that we are offering as much support in the community as we possibly can. We are happy to hear from them to tailor support to meet their needs. Tracey and Sam are available by phone and email to discuss individual requirements.
Finally, for those who are concerned about payment plans and payment of bills we are encouraging you to get on top of this early. Tracey is very happy to discuss concerns and to step you through in the least stressful ways possible. Tracey is available on 1300 982 951 for those discussions.
I know you are all stressed and I will try to update you as frequently as I possibly can.
As part of the My Midwives family, your safety remains our highest priority. We are monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak closely and are listening carefully to the questions and concerns we receive from you.
It's important that we give you as much information as possible about the procedures we adhere to in order to maintain a sanitary environment and ensure the safety of all of our clients.
We will continue to uphold our high clinical and sanitation standards. These practices include:
For the safety of all of our clients and staff, if you or your child are feeling unwell, or have travelled overseas recently, please contact us before coming into the clinic, so we can discuss with you prior to your appointment the best way to complete your appointment.
I want you to know that you can continue to rely on us. So next time we have the privilege of welcoming you into our clinic, you can know our commitment to you remains as steadfast as ever.