The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rambam Health Care Campus was especially busy recently, when 25 successful births took place over the course of two days. Another birth in the department provided the opportunity for two sisters to meet up for the first time in more than one month.
When Shir Eliav entered her ninth month of pregnancy, she chose to self-isolate with her mother, for fear of becoming infected with COVID-19. Giving birth at Rambam Health Care Campus provided her with an opportunity to see her sister, Maayan Macabi, a nurse in the newborn nursery, whom she had not seen in more than a month.
Shir spoke to her sister before coming to Rambam for the birth. "Talking to her really calmed me down. She explained about the complete separation between the COVID-19 patients and the rest of the hospital, saying there was no chance of becoming infected. I don't know how I would have gotten through the birth without her support," notes Shir.
Shir recalls her trip to the hospital. "Everything was empty, and we went directly to the department," she said. "My sister was not on duty at the time, but meeting her the next morning was really exciting. I could have been released a day earlier, but preferred to stay an extra day in order to see her again during her next shift." The department was working in an emergency format, with staff members each working 12-hour shifts every other day.
Maayan, Shir’s sister, explains, "I have three children at home, and now I am in the hospital for hours because of the emergency work format. My husband stays alone with the children. I am still calm. We are a very cohesive team, and the hospital really helps. We are mobilized for the cause.” She adds that the excitement she felt at seeing her sister at this time was tremendous, as though they hadn't met in years. “We live really close by one another, in the same locality, but couldn't meet up. I couldn't be with her to support her - especially during the last part of her pregnancy. It was wonderful to be able to spend this special and important time together."
Increase in Births
Shir’s birth was just one of a many births that took place at Rambam against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the number of births has recently increased. "In recent weeks, we have received many anxious inquiries from pregnant mothers on this matter," says Michal Kranzler, Director of Nursing in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "It's understandable. The current situation is complicated for many people, especially pregnant women who are in such a delicate state. We allow every woman to come here and give birth in her own way, safely, despite the various restrictions. There’s nothing happier than seeing a maternity ward full of new mothers,” she says.
One of the new mothers currently staying in Rambam's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is Shani Shakuri, 32, from the northern community of Kfar Yehoshua, who gave birth to her first child – a boy. "I arrived with contractions and a mask," she says, laughing. "It was difficult. But otherwise, I enjoy the quiet. There are no visitors, so I have time to sleep and rest. It’s sad that the grandparents can’t visit, as he is the first grandson on both sides, but this is perhaps the only issue. I wasn’t afraid to go to the hospital because I know that the COVID-19 patients are in a completely different building and that everything is very well managed here. Everyone is wonderful – the nurses, the doctors, the staff in the nursery – I'm relaxed."
Giving Birth Safely at Rambam
From the moment that Rambam began receiving COVID-19 patients, a dedicated pre-equipped maternity room was established for pregnant women diagnosed with the disease and due to soon give birth. The room is in a completely separate building from the hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is part of Rambam’s COVID-19 department, which has a dedicated, fully equipped integrated examination and delivery room for pregnant coronavirus patients. In addition, Rambam has a dedicated operating room for those coronavirus patients who require a cesarean section. The infected women are examined by a senior physician and the same doctor and midwife stay with her throughout the delivery. After giving birth, the new mothers are transferred to a standard room within the COVID-19 department, and the newborns are isolated until their coronavirus test results are obtained.
It should be noted that the Rambam is very strict about following the Ministry of Health's protective measures in order to look after the health of the new mothers, their babies, and the hospital staff.