April 21, 2020
Dear Penn OB Patient:
The COVID-19 pandemic has had numerous impacts in all our lives, but as obstetrical providers we are especially concerned with the effects this disease has had on the lives and care of our pregnant patients. We are writing to inform you of the many processes we have in place at Penn Medicine to make your birth safe and special. Despite the many concerns patients may have, we are confident that a hospital is the safest place to deliver a baby, and Penn Medicine has instituted several changes in how we provide care to make sure this continues to be true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obstetrical providers across the health system have been working from the beginning of the epidemic to make sure that we are able to continue to provide care to our patients that is personal, based on good science, and meets the high standards we have for care at Penn. We have used resources provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to help inform our diagnosis and treatment protocols for COVID-19 as well as to construct processes outlined below that we think will keep you, your family members, your baby, and your providers safe from infection.
In the outpatient setting, we have instituted the following changes to ensure safe care for all:
- Many visits have been converted to telehealth visits in order to help patients and providers practice physical distancing. Any patient who needs to be seen in person will still be seen.
- All patients, providers, and other employees will undergo screening questions and temperature screening at entry to our clinics.
- No visitors or support people will be allowed in the outpatient clinic sites, again to promote physical distancing.
- All patients will be required to wear masks upon entrance to our outpatient clinics.
- Healthcare personnel are instructed to wear a mask at all times.
For patients admitted to the hospital, there are some additional procedures:
- Patients admitted to labor and delivery will be allowed one support person for their delivery.
- Patients and their support people will undergo screening questions and temperature screening on entry to the hospital.
- All patients and support people will wear a mask throughout the hospitalization.
- All patients will undergo testing for COVID-19 (nasopharyngeal swab) at admission.
- For patients who are diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection:
- A support person will be able to be present on labor and delivery if he/she is asymptomatic and has either not been tested for COVID-19 or is known to be COVID-19 negative.
- The support person will leave the hospital after the delivery.
Health Care Providers
In addition to the changes that affect patients themselves, all health care providers and hospital employees are now wearing masks when at work in the hospital and our other clinical facilities. We have also instituted screening with questions and temperature screening of all health care providers and hospital employees when they enter the hospital to ensure that all your providers are healthy when they are caring for you. Health care workers who have had high-risk exposures from COVID-19 patients are kept out of work and quarantined until we are confident that it is safe for them to return to work.
In recommending these protocols and procedures, we have done our best to balance the need to protect our patients and health care workers from COVID-19 with the desire to provide patient-centered and compassionate care to our pregnant patients. As situations evolve in this pandemic, we will need to adapt to new regulations and recommendations, and we will keep you apprised of any additional changes.
Thank you, again, for choosing Penn Medicine for your obstetrical care. We pledge to provide you with the outstanding care you deserve for your pregnancy and to help you have a birth that is memorable because it was both safe and joyous.
Chairs of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine
Samuel Parry, MD
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Steven J. Ralston, MD, MPH
John J. Eichenlaub, MD, FACOG
Lancaster General Hospital
Jamie Ann Bastek Finger, MD MSCE
Chester County Hospital
Heather van Raalte, MD
Princeton Medical Center