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She was about to give birth when she learned she had COVID-19. Here's what happened next

Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

Local hospitals often differ in how they handle other aspects of caring for women with COVID-19 and their babies -- differences that reflect how much remains unknown about the illness.

For example, NorthShore University HealthSystem, which has five hospitals in Illinois, is testing only those moms who are showing symptoms or have had known exposures, for COVID-19, while Prentice, Mount Sinai Hospital and Amita Health hospitals are testing all women about to deliver.

"The honest impression I have is there's not one perfect approach that makes the most sense for everyone, but for us, we've taken the approach we feel acknowledges the limitations of testing but simultaneously protects the health and well-being of babies," said Dr. Richard Silver, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at NorthShore.

At both Prentice and Amita Health, which has 19 hospitals in Illinois, partners are generally not allowed in the delivery room if a woman tests positive. NorthShore hospitals and Mount Sinai are allowing partners if they wear personal protective equipment.

"This is all new territory for all of us," said Tracie Shelton, assistant chief nursing officer at Sinai Health System, which so far has had at least eight COVID-19-positive moms deliver at Mount Sinai, on the city's West Side.

The pediatrics academy recommends that babies born to COVID-19-positive moms be tested for the illness 24 hours after birth and then again at 48 hours after birth. If an infant tests positive but does not show symptoms, the academy recommends caregivers stay in frequent contact with health care providers for 14 days after birth -- through calls, telemedicine or office visits. Prentice, NorthShore, Sinai and Amita have not, so far, had any newborns test positive for COVID-19.

 

NorthShore says it has cared for nearly 30 pregnant women with COVID-19, though most were far from their due dates when they were diagnosed, Silver said. So far, the system's Evanston Hospital has had three COVID-19-positive moms give birth, he said. Amita has had 11 women with COVID-19 deliver babies. Prentice declined to give a number.

"The emotional toll this has had on pregnant moms and their families is not trivial," Silver said.

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, where Faber gave birth, is now testing all women about to deliver for COVID-19. But that wasn't the case when Faber delivered at the hospital in late March.

Before Lucas was born, Faber suspected she had COVID-19 but wasn't sure. A nurse at University of Illinois Hospital, she had developed a fever, chills and aches after caring for a man she believes may have had the illness.

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