Embrace Women’s Health have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Australia and abroad for the past months and communicating daily with the relevant departments regarding how best to approach what may be the most significant health crisis of our generation.
In short, Coronaviruses are a group viruses that cause respiratory (lung) disease and include those responsible for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The virus is spread by close contact, through respiratory droplets and also by touching a surface which has been contaminated. This is why hand hygiene as well as avoiding touching your face is so important. Unfortunately this virus can be spread from a person who does not display any symptoms, or from an infected person prior to them showing symptoms (during incubation period). The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is often difficult to discern from a common cold or ‘childcare bug’ as the symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, cough and fatigue. Raise your hand if you have fatigue just from reading this!
It is important to note that while pregnant women and children are as likely to be infected as the general population, there is no evidence that they are more severely affected than non-pregnant individuals. Children are far less likely to have severe disease and can carry and transmit the disease while appearing completely well. There is one unpublished report of a newborn infected by COVID-19 but at this stage we do not know if the infection was acquired in pregnancy or after birth.
In a recently published case series, none of the 19 babies born to the 18 infected mothers in China were found the be affected by the virus. We do not have any information about miscarriage risk or other consequences of COVID-19 infection in early pregnancy, as the disease is so new and many of these women are still pregnant. This is in contrast to our experience with Influenza which is more severe in pregnancy, more likely to result in hospitalization and intensive care requirements, increases the risk of preterm (early) birth, miscarriage and other bad outcomes. To that end, please get your flu shot as soon as it is available.
Embrace Women’s Health is taking significant measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to #flattenthecurve and prevent an overwhelming number of people becoming sick at the same time, which our health system will not be able to accommodate. Furthermore, if either of our doctors are exposed to the virus and required to quarantine or isolate, it will drastically affect our ability to provide face-to-face care to our patients. At the time of publication, it is the opinion or our clinicians (Dr Jaclyn and Dr Danielle) that the government recommendations do not go far enough to prevent community transmission and protect our patients and as such, and we have developed our own strategy to limit the spread.
The responsibility rests with all of us to behave responsibly and ethically for the protection of our community.
Still reading? Good job! Almost at the end…
What are Embrace Women’s Health’s strategies to combat COVID-19?
- You might have noticed some changes to the waiting room with removal of toys, magazines and books. Surfaces will be disinfected more frequently. Hand sanitizer is available on the desks, as is antibacterial handwash in the bathrooms (and don’t worry, we still have toilet paper!). Please bring your own devices, toys, books to keep you and your little ones occupied while waiting and limiting virus spread.
- People returning from ANY OVERSEAS COUNTRY have been asked to postpone their appointment until 14 days after return. Furthermore, if you are sick or have a fever, EVEN WITH NO RECENT TRAVEL we ask that you reschedule your appointment until fully recovered. If your appointment is medically urgent we ask that you call our office to discuss and we will find a workable solution. There will be no fee or penalty for last minute cancellations under these circumstances.
- All members of the Embrace team have cancelled their upcoming overseas trips indefinitely. If travel was essential (e.g. a family emergency), we will impose the same 14 day restriction on return to the workplace as we do our patients.
- Medicare has just expanded its Telehealth program to be available to ‘vulnerable’ members of the community, especially pregnant women and those with young children. We are currently upgrading our infrastructure so that we can offer some appointments remotely via videoconferencing and Medicare rebates will apply. Obviously we cannot examine you or check your blood pressure over WiFi so this arrangement will not be appropriate for all women or for all stages of pregnancy. Once we have this fully operational we will contact patients who might find this suitable.
- We are trying to minimize time spent in the waiting area for patients. We are booking appointments less densely. If you would prefer to wait in your car until your doctor is ready for you, please contact reception to arrange in advance. Review appointment duration may be slightly shorter to prevent people a crowded waiting room.
- Dr Jaclyn and Dr Danielle do not have roaring social lives to begin with, but they will be practicing (and recommending) social distancing. This includes avoiding large gatherings, concerts, sporting events, conferences, playcentres (for our kids), handshaking and hugging. We also support any of our patients in working from home and are happy to provide certificates or letters to this effect.
- Reviewing the situation on a daily basis and continuing to provide the most up to date and accurate information possible. Please follow our social media accounts (@embracejaclynw and @drdaniellequittner) and the Embrace website.
We may take a bit longer to attend to administrative tasks and respond to your requests as we are being inundated at present, so we kindly ask for your patience with us
In the meantime, here are some helpful resources:
Language warning for this link but some very pertinent information
first published 14 March 2020