‘Still in the Baby Business’: Inova Opens New Birth Center Amid COVID Crisis

When Inova Loudoun Hospital’s new Birthing Inn opens at 5 a.m. Monday, in the Lansdowne campus’ brand new north tower, the maternity wing will have 12 days on its own in the building before other services move in April 25.

For Deborah Addo, president of Inova Loudoun Hospital, pushing up the Birthing Inn’s move offers a period of isolation during what some models say will be the peak for COVID-19 in Virginia.

“As we started to get ourselves prepared for all that we needed to do with COVID-19 and surge plans, we realized that we had a gem. And that gem was our Birthing Inn that we could use as an isolated space,” Addo said. 

In addition to the move, Inova has put in place several new rules for new moms and their birth partners.

• Women will be allowed to identify one support person to accompany them for labor, delivery and the postpartum period.

• Birth partners are screened for symptoms on arrival.

• Doulas are not allowed and video visits are encouraged.

• Hospital team members are checked when they arrive and during their shift.

• No other visitors are allowed during or after the birth.

• The support person may stay for the duration of the new mother’s stay and are encouraged to remain in the Birthing Inn unit.

“We’re recommending strongly that dad stays in the unit and we’re delivering meals to the unit so they’re not going through the [hospital] organization and just being present with mom and baby,” Addo said.

If a woman gives birth at the existing Birthing Inn before the move, whether she will be moved to the new facility or discharged from the current center depends on timing, Addo said. Early discharge may also be a possibility for some women based on progress and the woman’s preference.

“Each [discharge] is an individual conversation with that practitioner and mom … for some it might be sooner,” Addo said.

Addo added that the hospital is following CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations and does not anticipate eliminating the presence of birth partners at any point.

“At this stage we feel like we’ve done the things that we can to keep mom and team and baby safe, and so as a service line we’re not anticipating eliminating companions at this time.”

Addo also had high praise for her team at the Birthing Inn and Inova Loudoun during a time of big changes at the hospital.

“When everybody else is leaning out, they’re leaning in and taking care of this community. You’ve got some rock stars here,” Addo said. “We want to do everything that we can to make sure you know that safety is first and foremost with us. We are still in the baby business.”

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