As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local midwives are noticing two trends: more women are opting for home births and their supply of personal protective equipment is shrinking.
This week, Midwives Grey Bruce turned to the community to appeal for donations of surgical masks, N95 face masks, face shields, nitrile gloves and gowns as well as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
“We’re continuing to provide care to our pregnant people and newborns and our requests for home births have definitely increased during this time. So we’re just working hard to be able to get all the things that we need to protect our clients and ourselves and our families as well,” midwife Usha Ramsaran said in an interview.
The Owen Sound-based organization’s supply of PPE is “dwindling quickly,” she said, but they are not yet at a point where the need can be described as dire.
But with the number of local COVID-19 cases expected to rise, Ramsaran said local midwives want to be prepared for the possibility that they will have to use PPE more frequently.
“If a client is requesting care and we’re not able to have the PPE that we need to safely provide that care then we have to bring the woman into the hospital. And we know that keeping people out of the hospital is one way to reduce the risk of infection,” she said.
The Association of Ontario Midwives says the PPE shortage across the province is critical and midwives “urgently need” more “to help keep themselves and the families they care for safe.”
Juana Berinstein, the association’s director of policy and communications, said about one-quarter of midwifery practice groups in Ontario are running out or have a critical shortage of essential PPE.
“This means that already, for no reason other than a PPE shortage in their practice, midwives are redirecting same care to hospitals in order for the midwife to access PPE. Of course, unnecessarily increasing hospital admissions during this growing crisis makes no sense,” she said.
It is a priority at this time to keep healthy patients out of hospital, she said, and midwives contribute to those efforts by providing primary care and birth management in the community, when possible.
Ramsaran said current guidelines do not require local midwives to wear PPE for each client visit, but that could change.
“We’re only supposed to use it with people who have either symptoms or have tested positive.”
She said since many businesses that typically use masks and gloves – like tattoo shops and nail salons – are temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 state of emergency, they might be able to donate some supplies to local midwives.
Ramsaran said her organization, which serves all of Grey-Bruce, has been in touch with Grey County paramedic services and they are willing to share some PPE with them.
But the local midwives are still hoping to receive donations, she said, noting even small amounts of PPE would be “greatly appreciated.”
Local real estate agent Ericka Hardy has offered to collect PPE for Midwives Grey Bruce.
She has put a collection box on her front porch at 355 7th St. E.
Anyone with questions is asked to either call Ericka at 519-270-7177 or email email@example.com.
Hardy said she may also be able to pick up supplies, if needed.