Rotunda to extend visiting hours for partners of pregnant women

Almost 1,500 new Covid-19 cases nationwide but hospital says vaccination rates significantly up among its patients

The Rotunda hospital reported 57 per cent of patients and 74 per cent of their partners were fully vaccinated. File photograph: Photograph: Alan Betson

The Rotunda hospital reported 57 per cent of patients and 74 per cent of their partners were fully vaccinated. File photograph: Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Rotunda maternity hospital is to extend its visiting hours for partners of pregnant women to “close to pre-pandemic levels” following a “significant uptake” in Covid-19 vaccination rates among patients.

From Monday, those visiting hours will be 8am to 8pm each day.

The move came as the Department of Health announced on Saturday that there were 1,466 new cases of Covid-19. The number of patients being treated in hospital is now 311, with 58 in ICU.

The Master of the Rotunda, Prof Fergal Malone, last month said 60 per cent of patients and partners “walking around” the hospital were not vaccinated, meaning Covid-19 restrictions on attending partners could not be lifted.

He said the hospital carried out surveys of the vaccination status of patients and their partners every week, and that at the time just 39 per cent of expectant mothers were vaccinated, as well as 41 per cent of their partners.

However, in a statement on Saturday, the hospital said it was “delighted to be able to announce a significant uptake in Covid-19 vaccination rates amongst its patient population”.

It said its most recent survey reported that 57 per cent of patients and 74 per cent of their partners were fully vaccinated. This reflects current data from its most recent inpatient survey, which had a 95 per cent response rate.

“It also reflects the strong effort and lead being taken by the Rotunda in better informing patients on the very significant health benefits of Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy,” the hospital said.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
484 73

“The Irish Medicines in Pregnancy Service, which is funded and based at the Rotunda, together with the Rotunda’s various other information forums and platforms, will continue to do whatever it can to encourage this vaccination rate to grow even higher.

“In response to this significant improvement in vaccination rates, effective Monday September 13th, 2021, the Rotunda will now be able to extend visiting hours for partners to 8am to 8pm each day,” the Rotunda said.

The hospital said all other existing access controls “to keep all patients safe” continue to apply.

“This brings the Rotunda’s visiting arrangements close to pre-pandemic levels and remains vastly more accessible to arrangements that remain at almost all acute general hospitals in the State,” the hospital added.

“The Rotunda’s management team will continue to keep these arrangements under regular review, taking all necessary precautions to keep all our patients safe, while making decisions that are evidenced and based on current infection prevention and control guidance.”

The Rotunda was already allowing partners to attend early pregnancy scanning up to 12 weeks and anomaly scans, but previously the hospital said it could not accommodate unrestricted visiting at other times.

Saturday’s development comes weeks after Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced several updates to the State’s vaccination programme, including that mRNA vaccines can be given to pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy.

The previous advice was that pregnant women be offered mRNA shots at between 14 and 36 weeks’ gestation.

Last month, former master of the Rotunda Dr Peter Boylan said the distress caused to couples when a partner was not allowed to attend in particular circumstances was absolutely understandable.

However, he said of the Rotunda: “I think they’re clearly doing their best, but they do have a problem with the infrastructure in the Rotunda, and with the low vaccination rates among people attending.”

Dr Boylan pointed out that parts of the hospital date back to 1757 and that there is no ventilation or air conditioning in the old building. Included in that section are the main waiting rooms for the emergency department and ultrasound department.

Prof Malone said each of the hospital’s eight delivery suites are private and once a patient is admitted to the delivery room the patient’s partner will be with them “for every minute of that journey”.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has announced that he has removed Ecuador from the list of Designated States for Mandatory Hotel Quarantine. The change is effective immediately.