In line with the latest HSE guidance on access to hospitals, which includes standards for partners (Nominated Support Persons) who may accompany maternity patients, and in response to the recent marked increase in community transmission of Covid-19, the Rotunda is modifying its access arrangements for those attending the hospital, with effect from Monday November 29, 2021.
Partners can continue to accompany pregnant patients throughout labour, when visiting antenatal and postnatal wards, and when visiting the NICU, subject to practical arrangements to minimise overcrowding. Provided partners have no symptoms consistent with Covid-19, they are welcome to attend these wards between 8am and 8pm each day, although we ask that duration of visiting should be limited in multi-occupancy rooms to reduce risks of virus transmission.
However, many of the hospital’s outpatient areas are very limited in terms of waiting areas and are subject to overcrowding, thereby significantly increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The general outpatients area of the hospital will therefore only be accessible to partners to accompany pregnant patients for their booking visit, early pregnancy assessment scans, the 20-22 week anomaly scan, and by special arrangement for other special visits in which particularly complex or sensitive information is being shared. Partners will not be given access to the general outpatients part of the hospital except in these particular circumstances. The fact that only 40% to 60% of our outpatients report Covid-19 vaccination, together with the overcrowding in these areas and the high community transmission rates of Covid-19 currently, require that our Risk Assessment analyses are regularly updated in response to changing circumstances. Partners without symptoms of Covid-19 may continue to attend the Emergency & Assessment Unit if needed, but will be asked to wait outside the hospital until staff call their partner in to the examination cubicle.
We ask that partners help the hospital keep our patients safe by only attending the hospital when they feel it is absolutely necessary, and only when consistent with our visiting policies. It is important that we all keep in mind that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, with significant numbers of our pregnant patients having recently required ICU admission and mechanical ventilation. Unvaccinated pregnant patients are particularly vulnerable to such critical illness. We therefore continue to strongly recommend that all pregnant patients take a Covid-19 vaccine, as well as a vaccine booster when eligible, and that all partners also take a Covid-19 vaccine. In order to encourage such vaccination, our front door staff will continue to ask partners about their vaccination status.