UL Hospitals group say that while they are exploring ways to allow visitors to its hospitals, for now “it remains necessary to keep the ban in place to ensure the safety of everyone in our care and our staff.”
At the moment there is a visitor ban for all hospitals, barring exceptional circumstances.
The statement came after a Limerick mother, currently expecting twins strongly criticised the ban imposed in the Maternity Hospital, Limerick compared to other facilities around the county.
“Over the last few weeks certain maternity hospitals have eased restrictions due to the decreasing reproduction rate of the virus. Many pregnant women had voiced their concerns in the last number of weeks regarding the restrictions and how they were still the same as they were in April,” says Laura Walsh, a post primary teacher, from Ballyneety.
“Pregnant women and their partners were frustrated that the rest of the country was slowly starting to ease restrictions but maternity hospitals showed no sign of doing so.
Fortunately for many pregnant women in Dublin and elsewhere certain maternity hospitals have looked at the current situation over the last few weeks and have made adjustments or lifted restrictions that were in place at the height of the pandemic.,” she added.
She said that the Rotunda now allow a designated visitor to visit inpatients for two hours a day, fathers are allowed visit their child if they are in NICU, and now expectant women are allowed to bring their partners to their 20 week anomaly scan. This, she maintains is in stark contrast to the University Maternity Hospital Limerick which has eased none of the restrictions that were initially implemented.
“If you are a pregnant woman attending the maternity hospital in Limerick you are allowed no visitors if you are an inpatient (obviously the majority of women don't want a barrage of visitors but to have your husband or partner visit is important). It is also heartbreaking for partners that they can't visit their newborn babies. If a woman has a cesarean section then she could potentially spend five nights in hospital and that means the father doesn't get to see his wife or child for five days in what is such a special and monumental time .”
“In Limerick Maternity Hospital women don't even get the 20 week anomaly scan that all women in the Rotunda and in many other maternity hospitals get (and as of now their partners can attend). This is shocking and as Vicky Phelan mentioned on the Late Late Show it's another massive flaw in our health system and it means all pregnant women who access public maternity care are not afforded the same care or treated the same. However that's another matter for another day,” she claimed.
“If the restrictions were the same across the board in all maternity hospitals I and many other pregnant women would be much more accepting of them but there is a blatant difference. I can't comprehend how there is such a significant difference between Limerick maternity and the Rotunda especially if you consider the significantly lower amount of Covid cases in Limerick in comparison to Dublin.”
A spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group said they acknowledge the impact that the visiting ban has on women attending University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) and their partners, and the inconvenience and anxiety that it has caused for them at what should be the most joyous and celebratory time in their lives.
“In common with most other maternity units in the country, our initial decision to introduce the visitor ban at UMHL and subsequent decisions to retain it have not been taken lightly. While we respect the needs of each and every mother, mum-to-be and infant in our care, and their loved ones, we must prioritise the safety of all our patients and staff, and do everything we can to ensure our hospitals are protected from the ever-present threat of the coronavirus and COVID-19,” the statement read.
It went on: “We understand the difficulties that mothers and their partners have experienced since the visiting ban was introduced in early March. We have listened carefully to their feedback on all aspects of our service, and we look forward to eventually relaxing the current visiting restrictions in line with the recommendations of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), our HSE colleagues and our own expert staff.
The spokesperson said that at Group level they have commenced work on exploring how visiting at all its hospitals can be safely resumed, and this is kept under constant review, but for now, it remains necessary to keep the ban in place to ensure the safety of everyone in our care and our staff.