Local woman petitioning for doulas to be allowed back in hospitals

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 06/18/2020, 8:35 AM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(TULSA, Okla.) Kirsty Ray owns Tulsa Family Doulas, a business that has been impacted since March due to COVID-19-related restrictions in local hospitals. “Doulas are there to physically, emotionally and mentally support both people,” Ray said. Ray said despite it no longer being mandated by the state, many hospitals are still not allowing doulas in addition to the patient’s one visitor. “A doula is proven to reduce the risk of having a cesarean section and increase the confidence and comfort of the mother and partner.” Ray said. “The partner is emotionally invested in supporting the laboring mother and less likely to be able to provide the support needed because they need to be supported themselves.” To help doulas regain access to their clients, Ray started a petition urging local hospitals to do just that. Oklahoma entered Phase 3 of the state’s Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) Plan on June 1. As far as hospitals go, the plan states hospitals should follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines regarding limiting visitation, as well as the following allowed visitation: “1. Each patient may be permitted one adult Patient Representative to support and assist the patient with receipt of care. The Patient Representative should be the same throughout the admission or visit. a. Additional Patient Representatives may be permitted if exceptional circumstances warrant consideration and in compliance with facility policy. b. Patient Representatives shall be subject to any screening procedures required by the facility including temperature screenings, observance of hand hygiene practices, and the wearing of their own mask at all times while in the facility. 2. The facility may further limit access to patients when Patient Representatives fail to follow facility policy. 3. Social distancing is required at all times.” Guidelines on the CDC’s website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-hcf.html), state inpatient facilities should: “Limit visitors to the facility to only those essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care. Assess visitors for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms before entry to the facility. Instruct all visitors to wear a facemask or cloth face covering while in the facility, perform frequent hand hygiene, and restrict their visit to the patient’s room or other areas designated by the facility.” VNN reached out to local hospitals to find out their stance on the issue. Saint Francis Hospital officials told us they are just following state guidelines, and are working on getting back to us as far as when their visitor restrictions will be lifted. UPDATE: A Saint Francis Hospital spokesperson told VNN Thursday that doulas are permitted as a patient's one visitor, but that with COVID-19 cases currently on the rise in the area, they are unsure when that restriction will be lifted. We're told they have had mothers test positive for COVID-19, and that their restrictions are in place to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. We’re told Hillcrest Main is now allowing doulas to assist patients and their one visitor, but their South location is not. They do not have a date as far as when they will remove restrictions completely. VNN also reached out to Ascension and the St. John Health System. We have not received an update back from them at this time. You can find Ray’s petition here: https://www.change.org/p/hospital-administrators-allow-doulas-in-the-hospitals Check back for updates.


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