Yvonne Young, Clinical Midwife Specialist in Ultrasound in Maternity Services discusses the 'new normal' in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. This article was published in the Leinster Express on 4th August 2020.
A Day in the Life in Maternity Services in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise
By Yvonne Young
Hello, my name is Yvonne Young and I am the Clinical Midwife Specialist in Ultrasound in Maternity Services in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. I perform the anatomy scans which show how your baby is developing in the womb, they can check for many abnormalities and they can also tell the sex of your baby (but remember, scans can sometimes get the sex wrong).
I try to start every morning with a run which does a good job of waking me up for the day ahead. Then it's the usual scramble of a shower, breakfast and getting ready for work. I bring my uniform in a bag and wear 'civvies' into the hospital and change in work for infection prevention control. I am lucky with the morning routine as my husband is a farmer so he gets our two sons ready and to the child-minder. I am very glad that the summer has finally come and the added effort of home schooling has come to an end. I would leave a list of homework for the kids to do during the day and then when I got home from work I would do more with them. I think as a parent that was not something we ever saw coming!
I live in Mountmellick so it takes me about 20 minutes to get to work and I start my shift at 8am. On arrival now we have a COVID-19 symptom check and have our temperatures taken. The list for the Anatomy Scans starts at 8am. The scan in general takes approximately 15 minutes to perform, however this will depend on the clarity of the picture and on the indication of the scan. We leave 30 minute slots for the appointments so that we can sanitize the room for the next woman.
We have implemented a number of measures to protect the women attending our services and coming to the appointments now looks a little different.
Our team is focused on responding to the needs of the women who attend our services. An anatomy scan is an elective procedure but given that it is best practice to perform the scan between 20 and 22 weeks of a pregnancy, we kept the service running throughout the pandemic. Our service has not changed and we faced the challenges of COVID-19 head on to continue providing enhanced maternity care for the women of the Midlands. We have implemented a number of measures to protect the women attending our services and coming to the appointments now looks a little different.
Now when attending for an appointment women will undergo a screening process and be asked a short series of questions regarding COVID-19. Temperatures are also checked on entering the building. Women who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will be rescheduled to a time when we feel it is safe to proceed with the appointment. As soon as you arrive you will see a hand sanitiser station and we ask that you follow the advice displayed on how to use the hand sanitiser correctly. As you can see in my photo, we are now wearing masks and we ask the women attending our services to wear a mask also.
In the waiting room we are practicing social distancing. We are asking everyone to arrive on time for their appointments to limit the number of people in the waiting room and seats have been arranged to ensure everyone has the required space. If people arrive early for their appointments we ask them to wait outside to keep the numbers in the room low.
Currently partners and children are not allowed to attend the appointment for the scan. Women can be quite apprehensive about coming alone so I try to reassure them that only a small minority of anatomy scans show a problem. I take scan photos for them to bring home to show to their family. Also since COVID-19 I am frequently asked to write down the gender in a sealed envelope so that they can open it together later. I always try and facilitate this although I do warn them that just because it's written down it's not a 100% guarantee!
I try to fit in my lunch break between 1pm and 2pm. Now I just bring in something handy and quick from home as we can't all sit around and chat in the canteen like we used to do. I definitely miss the social interactions with my colleagues but these are the times we are living in and we are doing everything we can in the hospital to keep our patients safe.
I finish up at 4:30pm Monday to Thursday and on Friday I finish at noon. Before I leave work I change out of my uniform and bag it up to wash at 60 degrees. After my work day is done I collect the boys from the child-minder. Their football and hurling training has started back again so my evening could be standing on the side of a pitch. The lockdown was tough on everyone, especially the kids, so it's great to see them out playing sport with their friends again...back to a little bit of normality...the 'new normal.'
Other than watching a bit of amateur sports, my evenings involve preparing dinner and getting ready to do it all again tomorrow. I do love to bake, I find it a great destresser and it is a hobby that benefits to whole family. Needless to say there have been many sweet treats whipped up in my kitchen since March.
Ireland really is a country that comes together in a crisis and COVID-19 has been no exception.
Ireland really is a country that comes together in a crisis and COVID-19 has been no exception. The vast majority of the public have been amazing at sticking to the national guidance so far. I find it so heartening now to walk around the shops and see so many people wearing face coverings. It really makes me feel like we are all in this together! But we are far from near the end of this virus and we need to hold firm and continue to follow the public health advice in our daily lives. As public health restrictions are lifted, proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing are more important than ever. We are still at risk of a large surge of infection and everyone should use their judgement and follow the advice to help slow the spread of coronavirus.