Mater COVID-19 update

Mater has precautions in place to keep our women, newborns and staff safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves. 

Update to visitor restrictions:

Friday 25 September 2020, 10:26 am

Following a number of days with no new cases and no recorded community transmission, the Chief Health Officer and Deputy Premier have advised that visitor restrictions will be eased from 25 September in aged care homes and hospitals across Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan regions.

Mater will move to allow two visitors for all patients across all hospital facilities (including Central and North Queensland). Screening requirements will remain in place for anyone entering any hospital facility. Records of all visitors will still be required to be kept and managed by door management staff and those on clinical wards.

Visitors may include children under the age of 16 however will exclude anyone who has:

  • visited a COVID-19 hotspot 
  • arrived from overseas within the last 14 days
  • come into contact with someone who is a known case of COVID-19
  • or is feeling unwell in any way.

Please note, for families with babies in our Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU), visitors will be restricted to the baby's two (2) parents only. Children are not permitted to visit our NCCU Unit during this time.

With the relaxing of these restrictions, we anticipate a potential influx of visitors over the coming days we would ask for your patience as you enter the facilities.

It is imperative that Mater support this important community health initiative and all hospital entry points will be staffed to ensure compliance with these measures.

 

Frequently asked questions:

Can I call Mater Mothers' Pregnancy Assessment Centre?

If you live in South East Queensland and are experiencing early pregnancy bleeding or pain, or urgent pregnancy related issues please present to our Pregnancy Assessment Centre at Mater's South Brisbane campus 24 hours a day 7 days a week, or call 13HEALTH, your obstetrician or your GP for advice.

If you live in Central or North Queensland and are experiencing early pregnancy bleeding or pain, or urgent pregnancy related issues please present to your nearest emergency department, or call your obstetrician for advice.

Will Mater go into lock down? If so where will I have my baby?

Mater Mothers' Hospitals provide an essential service and will remain open for business as usual. We have added precautions in all of our hospitals across the state to keep our women, newborns and staff safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves. 

Will I have to share a room?

Mater Mothers' Hospitals have single rooms for private patients, and shared rooms for public patients. Should a single room be required for COVID-19  specific safety precautions, our staff will advise you.

What happens if a family member shows symptoms, is sick or in isolation? Can they still be my birth partner/visit?

No.

If I have symptoms will my booked procedure go ahead?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms you will be assessed by the medical team and a plan of care made from there.

Can I discharge home early?

Yes, if you and your baby are well and your healthcare team are happy for discharge. 

If you are an eligible Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane patient, you may also consider one of our Caring Continues options.

Will I still get a home visit from the midwife?

Mater understands that being home with a new baby can be overwhelming at the best of times. Therefore every effort will be made to ensure you receive a home visit from a midwife. If you are in isolation, this may take the form of a telehealth visit.

Are there still classes available?

To limit the number of families needing to travel to our classes, all face-to-face classes across the state have been postponed until further notice.

Virtual classes are now being facilitated by an experienced Mater Mothers’ midwife. Find out more about our virtual Parent Education classes, and book today

Is my baby safe? Are the staff clear and healthy? Are they looking after more women than me?

Mater Mothers' Hospitals have every precaution in place to ensure preparedness. Our maternity hospitals across the state remain fully functional, with services operating as per normal. All Mater Mothers’ staff are trained professionals and work together to help protect and keep safe our patients, staff and visitors.

What can I do to protect my baby?

Follow any advice that comes from Queensland Health and particularly follow Social Distancing and hand hygiene guidelines.

What happens if I go into labour during my self-isolation period?

Your maternity team know how to ensure you and your baby receive safe, quality care, respecting your birth plan as closely as possible.

  • You are advised to attend hospital via private transport where possible, or call 13HEALTH for advice as appropriate.
  • When you arrive at Mater we will undertake a health screen. If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you will be provided with a surgical face mask, that needs to stay on until advised otherwise.
  • COVID-19  testing will be arranged.

Will I be able to stay with my baby/provide skin-to-skin if I have suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

Each case will be reviewed and planned with your medical team to plan your care.

A discussion about the risks and benefits should take place between you and your family and the doctors caring for your baby to individualise care for your baby.

This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.

I’m stressed having trouble breastfeeding—where can I go for support?

Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre offers early parenting support and guidance for Mater mums up to six months after the birth of your baby. Support can be provided to help address issues including:

  • breastfeeding and feeding
  • sleep and settling
  • emotional wellbeing
  • infant interactions
  • adjusting to your new role as a parent/caregiver.

We’re also offering breastfeeding support with our experienced Lactation Consultants via Telehealth, Monday to Friday. Please call our team friendly team to find out more on 07 3163 2229.

If my baby is in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) can I visit?

For families with babies in our Neonatal Critical Care Unit, visitors will be restricted to the baby's two (2) parents only. Children are not permitted to visit the Neonatal Critical Care Unit during this time.

What is NCCU doing to protect babies from getting COVID-19?

Any Mater staff member with any illness must stay at home and not come into work—this is particularly important in NCCU as any infection can be dangerous for our seriously ill and premature babies.

Would it be safer to just stop visiting my baby in NCCU altogether?

If you practice the measures above you are safe to visit your baby.  It is important for you and your baby to have time together and you baby needs to experience your touch, smell and/or voice. It is beneficial to both the mother's and baby's health to have skin-to-skin time.

I'm a publicly-funded patient, will I continue to have my pregnancy check-ups at the hospital?

Where possible, women who have low risk pregnancies will have either GP Shared Care or midwifery care at Mater Mother's Hospital in South Brisbane. Either way you will receive your regular checks by telehealth where a midwife or GP will contact you and ask you to take your blood pressure on a machine that you have sourced yourself (if possible).  If this is not possible, Mater has a limited supply of blood pressure machines for loan. The GP or midwife will talk to you about your baby’s growth and movements and make an assessment of your pregnancy progress.

There will be one visit to Mater at 34-37 weeks gestation, where you will be able to have an ultrasound scan to check that your baby is growing well. You will also be able to see a midwife at this time for a blood pressure check and general assessment.

Please be assured, if your pregnancy has been identified as high risk, you will still be seen face-to-face at Mater Mothers.

Can I bring my other children to the hospital grounds (outside) to meet our newborn?

From 25 September Mater will move to allow two visitors for all patients across all hospital facilities. Screening requirements will remain in place for anyone entering any hospital facility. Records of all visitors will still be required to be kept and managed by door management staff and those on clinical wards.

Visitors may include children under the age of 16 however will exclude anyone who has:

  • visited a COVID-19 hotspot 
  • arrived from overseas within the last 14 days
  • come into contact with someone who is a known case of COVID-19
  • or is feeling unwell in any way.

For families with babies in our Neonatal Critical Care Unit, visitors will be restricted to the baby's two (2) parents only. Children are not permitted to visit the Neonatal Critical Care Unit during this time.

Will Mater Mothers' Hospitals move to having no support person in hospital?

We understand this can be an uncertain and worrying time to be pregnant and bringing a baby into the world. Mater is doing everything we can to keep you, your baby and our staff safe. From 25 September, you are able to have two visitors.

We recommend speaking with your obstetrician or midwife to help answer any questions you may have.

Should I consider changing to a home birth?

As COVID-19 continues to evolve we are committed to providing compassionate care within the current guidelines. We have taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our mothers, babies, staff and the community. In line with Queensland Health recommendations, all women who are booked to give birth at Mater Mothers' Hospitals should continue to do so.

If you have any questions, please speak with your obstetrician or midwife. 

As a publicly-funded patient, would I potentially be sharing a birth suite/room with a COVID-19 infected patient?

All women giving birth at Mater Mothers' Hospitals are cared for in a single birth suite room.  As a publicly-funded patient you may be admitted to a shared inpatient room following the birth of your baby, however COVID-19 positive mothers will be isolated in a single room in a separate ward dedicated to caring for women with COVID-19.

Are water births still available?

Yes, waterbirths are still available at Mater Mothers' Hospitals in South East Queensland for women who are well. If you are COVID-19 positive then, based on expert advice, the option of water birth is not available.  

Is a patient coming to Mater Mothers' Hospitals at risk of contracting COVID-19? Do you have masks to protect patients?

It is safe to attend Queensland hospitals whether it’s through emergency or for an appointment. 

From 25 September, in line with updated guidelines from Queensland Health, surgical face masks will no longer be required to be worn by all patients, visitors and staff whilst within any of our hospital facilities. Please be advised that should you wish to wear a mask whilst within our hospitals, they will be provided with one upon entry. 

With these eased safety restrictions, it is important that all visitors practice thorough hand hygiene, maintain social distancing where possible and continue our general clinical safety practises to keep everyone safe.

Can I come to Pregnancy Assessment Centre if I am unwell or should I attend an Emergency Department? Even postnatally?

If you are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 and have no complications of pregnancy, you should attend your nearest Emergency Department or your GP for screening.

However, if you live in South East Queensland and are haing pregnancy symptoms/complications, please present to our Pregnancy Assessment Centre at Mater's South Brisbane campus 24 hours a day 7 days a week, or call 13HEALTH, your obstetrician or your GP for advice. Please inform staff immediately on arrival.

My support person is awaiting results from a COVID-19 test. Can they still come?

To keep our mums, babies and staff safe, we do screen all support persons at reception. If your support person is still awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test, they will not be allowed to enter the hospital and should remain at home until the results of their tests are known.

 

I would like to know more about COVID-19

Stay informed and read the latest announcements about COVID-19 and up-to-date advice here.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

If your health deteriorates or you have any further questions regarding your condition, please contact your midwife or obstetrician.

 

When will I need to wear a mask?

From 25 September, in line with updated guidelines from Queensland Health, surgical face masks will no longer be required to be worn by all patients, visitors and staff whilst within any of our hospital facilities, effective immediately. Please be advised that should you wish to wear a mask whilst within our hospitals, they will be provided with one upon entry.

With these eased safety restrictions, it is important that all visitors practice thorough hand hygiene, maintain social distancing where possible and continue our general clinical safety practises to keep everyone safe.

 

Pregnant or with a newborn or children: Coronavirus and what you need to know

Posted Tuesday 17 March 2020, 11.31 am  (last updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020, 2.02 pm)

As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increase across Australia and the world, we understand it can be overwhelming to make sense of all the information currently available.

So we’ve asked our Mater Mothers’ maternity experts to answer some of the most commonly asked questions from our mothers community.

The good news is, to date, evidence indicates that pregnant women are at no more risk than non-pregnant women. Additionally, so far there has been a much lower rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, compared to the general population.

Now, on to some of the commonly asked questions our parents are asking:

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

The virus appears to spread through respiratory droplets, but also through faeces and things that you can touch (surfaces, towels etc). People are most contagious when they are most symptomatic (i.e. the sickest) but spread can also occur when a person is asymptomatic. To help restrict the spread of the infection, you and your family should focus on good hand hygiene, avoiding handshakes and large gatherings, and practicing social distancing.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted in pregnancy?

There have been a few cases reported of possible transmission from mother to baby in the womb but the rates appear to be low. Some of these infections may have been the result of the baby catching the virus after birth, but it does appear that it is possible, although rare, for the virus to be transmitted to baby before birth. One research project has recently tested amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs and placentas from COVID-19 infected mothers, with all of these particular samples testing negative for the virus.

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women and new mums?

The vast majority of women will experience either nothing (asymptomatic) or mild to moderate cold/flu like symptoms. Fever and cough are the most common symptoms, with runny nose and sneezing being less frequent symptoms. Initial data suggests that pregnant women get no more (or less) sick than non-pregnant women who have contracted the virus. 

The greatest risk with COVID-19 appears to be in older people, those whose immune system is suppressed, or with underlying health conditions like diabetes, cancer, cardiac conditions or chronic lung disease.

Does COVID-19 affect babies?

It appears that it is uncommon for the virus to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It also appears that COVID-19 does not induce premature labour and there is no information to suggest that COVID-19 causes miscarriage. Newborn babies who have been affected, either from transmission in the womb or early infection, do not appear to develop a serious illness. To date, there has been a much lower rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, relative to the general population, in all countries around the world.  

Is a caesarean section safer?

There is no evidence to suggest that a caesarean section is safer for women who have COVID-19, and it is not being recommended as a birth option for this reason alone. The evidence we have to date is that transmission to babies does not happen during pregnancy or during the birth.

Will women with COVID-19 be looked after differently in labour?

For women planning a vaginal delivery, for most this will still be possible. Staff caring for women in labour with COVID-19 will take all possible precautions against spreading the virus. Monitoring of the baby’s heart rate throughout labour will also occur to ensure that sufficient oxygen is getting through to the baby at all times.  

What about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is encouraged for all mums. The early data indicates that COVID-19 does not pass through breast milk, but protective antibodies to coronaviruses do. The concern for new mums who have COVID-19 is rather their close contact with their baby, as the virus is most commonly spread by respiratory droplets.  

Like always, mums should thoroughly wash their hands (for at least 20 seconds) before each feed. Some guidelines are recommending COVID-19 positive new mums to wear a face mask while feeding.   

What should we all be doing?

The advice for pregnant women is no different to everyone else in the general community.
 

Think about keeping grandparents safe

You may need to call on someone to help care for your baby or other children if you become unwell. A lot of the time we call on grandparents for this help, but it’s important to remember that older people are the most likely to become seriously ill should they contract COVID-19, and the most at risk of fatality.

Now is a great time to think about making alternative arrangements and consider who you can call on, should you or your partner become unwell. 

If you do have to call on grandparents, please ensure you’ve spoken with them about how they can reduce their risk of infection while caring for your baby or children.

Hygiene is key

The most important thing you can do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene. This includes:

  • cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
  • covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • avoiding touching your face, nose and mouth and avoid shaking hands
  • staying home if you are unwell
  • avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell—try to stay 1.5m away from anyone coughing or sneezing. 

More information

Mater continues to work as part of the broader health network in support of Public Health efforts to test, contain and manage COVID-19. For the latest information on protecting your family please read Mater's updates here.

As is usual practice, if you feel unwell, please avoid visiting family or friends in hospital and seek medical attention for any symptoms.

Anyone with concerns, please call 13 HEALTH or find up-to-date information on the Queensland Health website.

If you live in South East Queensland and are experiencing early pregnancy bleeding or pain, or urgent pregnancy related issues, please present to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre at Mater's South Brisbane campus 24 hours a day 7 days a week or call 13HEALTH. 

Looking for translated information about COVID-19? You can visit Health Translations, supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. They offer a range of patient information in multiple languages. 

 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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