An outcry has emerged after two major hospital systems in the New York City area have enacted strict policies on who can accompany a mom-to-be into the delivery room during the coronavirus outbreak—notably, no one except medical staff. In a move that Dr. Dena Goffman, chief of obstetrics at Columbia University Medical Center, tells CNN was a "very difficult decision and not one taken lightly," the NewYork-Presbyterian health care system won't be allowing any visitors, including partners, to be with the mother as she gives birth. This move, along with COVID-19 testing for all women admitted to labor and delivery units, is to ensure the safety of the mothers, babies, and staff in the maternity ward, especially as symptoms from the coronavirus—e.g., fatigue, shortness of breath—can seem similar to those experienced during labor, meaning doctors may not realize a patient is ill.
Per the New York Times, the city's Mount Sinai Health System issued a similar mandate Monday night. "I have so much anxiety now and literally have not stopped crying after hearing that my husband can't be with me," says one woman due in June and set to give birth at a hospital under the NewYork-Presbyterian umbrella. Even the World Health Organization's protocol for childbirth involving women with either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections notes the right of patients to have "a companion of choice present during delivery." A petition for the New York-area hospitals is circulating, citing a state Department of Health guideline that calls for a support person to be there with the mother. A famous face is joining in the criticism: Per EOnline.com, actress Chloe Sevigny, due any day now with her first child, called the news "very distressing for all" on Instagram. (Read more coronavirus stories.)