Update: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Dear Penn Fertility Care Patient,
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on you and your family. Please be assured that your health and fertility are of paramount importance to us. As the coronavirus pandemic has begun to stabilize in Pennsylvania as a result of social distancing measures, state and local governments have begun to slowly open medical facilities for non-emergent care including fertility services.
The decision to pursue fertility treatment in this uncertain time can be challenging. We wanted to provide more information, which we hope is helpful in guiding your decision.
At this time, little is known about COVID-19, particularly as it relates to its effect on women in early or late pregnancy and on infants. The data available on COVID-19 do not indicate that pregnant women are at increased risk of acquiring the virus or developing more severe disease compared to non-pregnant women. Adverse outcomes such as miscarriage and preterm birth have been reported in women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy, but the data are limited, and it is not clear that these outcomes were related to maternal infection. It is also unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta and infect the fetus.
As of today, more than 48,000 individuals in Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and there have been more than 2,400 deaths related to the infection. We anticipate that broad testing in the future will allow us to identify infected individuals sooner and help to minimize viral transmission to patients and staff. Until testing is more widely available, social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing are the best methods to avoid spreading the virus.
Fertility treatments often require multiple visits to the office. As we prepare to resume in-person evaluation and treatment, we have established the following processes to maximize safety and mitigate risk:
- Appointments will be spaced throughout the day to minimize the number of patients exposed to one another in the office.
- We are rigorously cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces several times a day, in accordance with infection control guidelines.
- Our waiting room and patient care areas have been reconfigured to allow physical distancing within the office.
- No visitors are allowed to accompany patients to fertility treatments. Please review our latest visitor guidelines for more details.
- All patients and staff are required to wear a face mask or covering during visits. Please bring your own face covering; if you don’t have one, we can provide you with one.
In addition, we will be screening all patients prior to and during appointments and procedures.
- All patients will be screened before their visit to assess whether they may be at risk of having COVID-19. If you experience fevers or cough, or have had exposure to a person with confirmed COVID-19, please inform us before coming in.
- All patients will have their temperature screened before each visit.
- COVID-19 testing will be prioritized initially for surgical patients who require general anesthesia. We plan to expand testing as tests become more readily available.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, such as a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, your treatment cycle will be canceled.
We recognize that your treatment may have been postponed for many weeks already. You are not alone. We want to begin your treatment cycle as quickly as we can. However, given that we must resume treatment in a manner that optimizes safety, please expect additional delays. We are prioritizing established patients based on their date of cancellation and the urgency of treatment. IUI cycles may be more readily available than IVF cycles. In addition, our financial counselors can work with you to address any financial concerns.
We understand that the uncertainty of COVID-19 may make it difficult for you to decide if you should start fertility treatment in the coming months. Your doctor is available for a telehealth consultation, which you can do virtually from your phone or computer, to help you weigh the risks and benefits of this important decision for you and your family.
We are looking forward to helping you build your family and are available to answer any questions you may have. For additional resources, please refer to the most recent guidance published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Thank you for your understanding and patience during these difficult times.
The Penn Fertility Care Team