Expecting mothers already have a lot to worry about before their due dates, but factor in a pervasive virus, and those pressures increase exponentially. This is what Melissa DeRosa is trying to circumvent with the launch of the COVID-19 Maternity Task Force.
On April 20, the secretary to the governor and chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, announced the initiative that will examine health care facilities for pregnant women and propose alternatives that will alleviate the demands on already-packed hospitals.
Indeed, with more than 145,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and upward of 11,000 deaths from the disease, New York has been hit hard by the outbreak. This has drained the resources of medical facilities that are experiencing shortages of proper protective equipment (PPE), which puts newborns at risk for contracting the disease. Expecting mothers have to face all these factors while trying to deal with the anxiety that comes with being pregnant. But with authorized birthing centers, as the COVID-19 Maternity Task Force is initially proposing, the thought of delivering a baby doesn’t have to be so worrisome.
“This pandemic strained our hospital system in a way no one could have ever imagined, and while New York leads in ensuring laboring mothers were able to have a healthy partner, friend or family member with them during childbirth we can and should explore additional ways to make the experience less stressful,” she said in a statement. “Birth centers can serve as a safe alternative for low-risk pregnancies—relieving the strain on hospitals and providing a supportive environment for mothers during an already stressful time.”
DeRosa has also enlisted a group of professionals who can best assess the problem and collectively find adequate solutions that will help women during this trying time. They include Christa Christakis, executive director of American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists District II; Sascha James-Conterelli, president of the NYSAssociation of Licensed Midwives; Dr. Deborah E. Campbell of Montefiore Medical Center; and Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, an organization committed to improving the maternal health of women globally.
“Governor Cuomo and New York State have been national leaders in the fight against COVID-19 and the fact that they are prioritizing the health and safety of women and families during this crisis only further underscores that,” said Burns. “I’m honored to be working with Melissa and the other members of this task force to urgently protect mothers and ensure women have much-needed safe birthing options.”
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