Protect the Lives of our Frontline Medical Staff During Covid-19

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Ask Governor Cuomo to allow hospitals to make decisions based on best medical practices.

My 29-year-old daughter is a Chief OB resident at a New York hospital.  She and the doctors, nurses, and midwives in her department are risking their lives every day to make sure that women in New York State are able to deliver their babies safely, despite the Coronavirus pandemic.  They may not always have sufficient protective equipment and are terrified of getting sick and possibly dying - - but they show up every day because they are committed to their patients. Because a significant percentage of those infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic, and hospitals do not have sufficient tests to determine who may be an unknowing carrier, hospitals have barred all visitors - -  with one exception: Women giving birth are allowed to have a partner present.  

Because of an incident several weeks ago resulting in the exposure of some fifteen health workers to the virus by someone in the delivery room who was asymptomatic, the Columbia and Weill Cornell Hospital network made the difficult decision to bar labor partners in order to save the lives of medical workers. This policy - -  unthinkable in normal times - -  is essential. Every additional, possibly Covid-positive person in a small, crowded labor or delivery room puts health workers at additional risk.  This is especially true now that we have learned that talking, and even breathing, can spread the virus. In addition, every partner uses up  a set of hospital-supplied PPE, at a time when many hospitals do not have enough for medical staff.  

The “no partner” policy sparked a backlash among expectant mothers and their partners and, in response, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order last week requiring hospitals to permit a partner in every labor/delivery.  

We are asking Governor Cuomo to rescind that order, and to allow hospitals to make decisions based on science, balancing the desires of expectant mothers and the safety of medical staff, even if that means not permitting partners during labor and delivery. 

Nobody denies that the presence of a supportive partner benefits mothers, babies, and partners.  In this unprecedented situation, however, we must consider the costs of allowing partners:

  • Partners expose health workers to the virus; some may die as a result or be unavailable for weeks at a time;
  • Partners use scarce PPE, again exposing health workers to the virus should they later lack this essential  protective gear; and
  • When OB health workers die or are out sick due to exposure to the virus, fewer will be left to deliver the women who are due in the coming weeks and months.

Please sign and circulate this petition if you live in New York State, to protect our brave and invaluable medical workers.