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Pregnant Vancouver woman wants transparency after COVID-19 outbreak at St. Paul's NICU

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jul 17, 2020 at 5:28 pm PDT

FILE: A pregnant woman is examined as she waits to give birth at a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. The Canadian Press has connected with multiple expecting mothers who tell a similar story: They were laid off from their jobs in March, qualified for employment insurance benefits, but stumbled during the promised crossover to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit when it became available this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Felipe Dana

A 36-weeks pregnant Vancouver woman calls for more transparency following a COVID-19 outbreak at St. Paul's Hospital

Neonatal Intensive Care unit shut down due to the outbreak, but the expecting mother plans to give birth there next week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — An expectant mother who plans to give birth at St. Paul’s Hospital wants more transparency from health officials after the neonatal intensive care unit closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

On Thursday, the NICU at the Vancouver hospital shut down for cleaning when the outbreak was detected, and few details have been released.

RELATED: St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver shuts down neonatal intensive care unit due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Vancouver woman, who wishes to stay anonymous, is 36-weeks pregnant with a plan to give birth at St. Paul’s next week.

While she has confidence in the hospital, she’s apprehensive, considering it’s unclear if the outbreak is among staff or patients.

“I think that piece of information will be really important, but are they testing the nursing staff, the obstetrician, gynecologists that are coming in over the next couple of weeks to ensure that there haven’t been further infections that continue to spiral, and it’s not isolated to the NICU,” she tells NEWS 1130.

But the woman says a better understanding of how the coronavirus outbreak started would make her feel more at ease, as well as what staff testing measures are in place.

“I don’t want names, I understand that needs to be private. But I do appreciate when they publish basic information,” she says. “Especially when its an environment catering to the public health and safety versus a grocery store.”

At the moment, the pregnant woman doesn’t necessarily have a backup plan if the outbreak is still ongoing.

“I think I will most likely consider delivering at St. Paul’s,” she says, since she already had reasons for choosing that hospital.

“It would be complicated to find a new obstetrician, or switching to a midwife willing to take me at this point. I would have to find a new medical team essentially that would take me at this point in my pregnancy.”

While the expecting mother says it’s understandable for some information to be withheld, it’s still frustrating.

“I would like to see more transparency come out of this.”

Providence health care says strict infection control protocols are in place at St. Paul’s, while Vancouver Coastal Health is taking the lead on the outbreak.

During Friday’s COVID-19 update, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it is safe to still go to hospitals for all needs, including pregnancy and delivery at St. Paul’s.

“[The outbreak] is an unfortunate event, thankfully, no one is seriously ill right now and we are putting every measure in place to make sure it’s safe.”

She says screening measures are in place and health officials have been working to ensure protocols are being followed.

-With files from Sonia Aslam