May 5, 2020
To our MBC clients:
We know that each of you has been adjusting to a great deal of change and hope you are settling into a new normal for now. Like you, we continue to refine our response to COVID-19 as the information and recommendations evolve. Our goals remain the same: to keep our patients and our staff safe, to serve families desiring midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth, and to protect the health of our communities. Please read on for important updates regarding our current operating procedures:
Client and Staff Safety
- Masks now required: Following recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), we will be requiring all patients to wear a mask or face covering during clinic visits. Our staff is doing the same. If you have one at home please bring and wear with you into the building. If not, we will continue to have masks available at the front desk. Please sanitize your hands prior to taking a mask.
- For births, we will be asking your support people to wear a mask while our staff are in the room with you. Please bring from home if you have; otherwise, we will have cloth masks available at both sites. Clients in labor will not be required to wear a mask.
- Goggles and face shields: Our midwives and nurses will also be wearing goggles or face shields for eye protection during clinical encounters as recommended by MDH.
- COVID-19 symptoms added: We have updated our visitor guidelines to include the CDC’s most current list of COVID-19 symptoms. Please review them at the top of our COVID-19 page here.
- Temperature checks: We continue to require temperature checks in order to enter the birth center. If at all possible, please check your temperature at home prior to coming in to your clinical visits. Otherwise our clinic coordinators will check your temperature when you arrive at the front desk. If your temperature is above 100.0 please stay home and call to make an alternative plan for your appointment.
- For births, we will check your and your support people’s temperatures upon arrival to the birth center. Only asymptomatic people without a recent history of COVID-19 exposure will be allowed to enter the birth center.
Client Care and Education
- Virtual Prenatal Circle Group launched! We have heard from our client community that you want connection now more than ever, so we’ve launched a virtual Prenatal Circle Group. We’ll host 3 one-hour Zoom meetings spaced throughout your pregnancy with 6-8 pregnant clients who have similar due dates. A midwife or nurse will facilitate the group. If you are due in November or December, you can sign up now by calling the front desk. Note: this program is similar to in-person Prenatal Circle Care in terms of topics discussed but will not replace your routine OB visits.
- Postpartum Circle Group moves virtual! Clients who have recently birthed are invited to join us for a virtual Postpartum Circle Group, via Zoom call, around 2-3 weeks’ postpartum. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other new parents! Sign up by calling the Front Desk.
- Expansion of well-care offerings: Clients interested in an annual well-care exam may be added to a waitlist for this visit. We will call you day-of if there is an opening in the schedule. Please call our front desk if you are interested in being added to this wait list. We continue to offer contraceptive visits and problem visits both in-person when needed and virtually when possible.
- New process for online check-in: We have started using our Patient Portal for online check-in prior to appointments. Please get in the habit of routinely checking in for appointments via this platform. Sometimes there will be documents to electronically sign or forms to download and complete, as well as a health history to complete or review. You can access the patient portal here.
- Virtual visits continue: All telehealth visits with MBC are being held via Google Hangouts Meet (not phone call). You will receive an invitation to the virtual visit the evening prior and will click on the link provided at your appointment time to participate. Please read the Google Meet invitation thoroughly for any instructions that are specific to you. You do not need a Google account to join the video call.
Amid so much uncertainty, we find confidence and comfort knowing that in our corner of the universe we’ll continue to do what we do best—empowering and supporting families as they lovingly welcome their babies into the world. Thank you for trusting us with your care. Thank you for partnering with us to keep you and all of our clients and staff safe.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Your MBC team
April 12, 2020
A lot has been happening behind the scenes at the Minnesota Birth Center! Here’s a summary of the latest changes to get you up to speed:
- You may have noticed that our staff in clinic, at births, and at home visits are now wearing surgical or cloth masks. This is a measure to protect our patients and our staff and follows the most current CDC and MDH guidance on facemasks for source control, as mask wearing reduces the likelihood that you will transmit the virus to others. We have been working hard and creatively to procure PPE and are grateful for donations of medical masks, cloth masks, face shields, gowns, and scrub caps from friends, family, and community nationwide.
- We will have cloth masks available for patients to use while in clinic. Remember to sanitize your hands before taking and donning a mask. When you remove your mask before you leave, remember to only touch the ties/loops, place it in our clinic laundry, and sanitize or wash your hands again. For more information on mask wearing and proper technique, here’s a user’s guide and another article about common mistakes.
- We have been offering telehealth visits and are thankful for all of the grace, patience, flexibility you have shown us as we’ve been figuring things out. In an effort to reduce traffic in our buildings, we are only staffing one midwife in clinic per day. Here’s our modified prenatal visit schedule for your reference.
- Our breastfeeding support remains mostly the same with a few adjustments:
- Lactation visits are still available in-person but can also be held virtually.
- Our Well Fed breastfeeding support group continues to meet every Monday from 10:30a-12p via Zoom. We’ve also added a Well Fed Facebook group that clients may join for online community and support.
- The next breastfeeding class will be held online in two sessions, which are scheduled for May 3rd and May 10th. The registration link is here.
March 23, 2020
Dear Minnesota Birth Center families,
During this time of increased isolation and uncertainty amid the COVID-19 outbreak, our hearts and minds have been focused on each of you. Since we last reached out via email ten days ago, nationwide and statewide emergencies have been declared, and with them the recommendations of public health authorities have changed. The team at MBC has been working harder than ever, communicating regularly, and modifying our plan daily as the situation continues to evolve.
The safety and health of all of our patients and staff continues to be our top priority, as well as the health of the greater public and the wellbeing of our community. Our goal is to continue to provide care as usual throughout the pandemic. To do so, we are working to develop staffing contingency plans as well as taking steps to reduce the risk of staff exposure. To this end, MBC is implementing the following temporary measures:
- Effective Wednesday, March 25th, at 7:30AM, Minnesota Birth Center midwives will no longer be attending families in the hospital but will ensure a seamless transfer of care to a hospital-based midwifery or obstetrics practice.
- We are implementing restrictions on who can enter the birth center:
- Only patients may come to clinic visits, no partners or children.
- Only two support people may attend births (for example, partner + doula).
- Anyone entering the birth center must be healthy, without recent history of possible exposure to COVID-19.
- All visitors will be screened upon entry to the building, including birth support persons.
- Laboring clients will be screened over the phone upon calling the on-call midwife for labor triage.
- See here for the full, detailed list of visitor restrictions.
- We are asking our staff and our patients to practice social distancing, isolate in their homes, and limit social contacts to the minimum necessary.
- While our staff can do this at home, as healthcare workers we do not have the option of doing this in the workplace. We therefore must rely on you–the patients we have contact with at work–to be doing this as well.
- This is especially important for patients after 35 weeks’ gestation to prevent exposure to COVID-19 that might impact your option to birth out-of-hospital.
- We are postponing all nonessential visits until later in the year (e.g. Well Woman Exams).
- We will be decreasing the number of in-person prenatal visits to the minimum necessary, and offering virtual visits in between. We will have a plan in place for this visit schedule by the middle of this week.
- All nonessential MBC staff are working from home.
- We have discontinued all group gatherings at the Minnesota Birth Center.
- Orientations/tours will be held virtually. At this time, the registration process remains the same. Attendees will receive an invitation to the remote orientation day-of.
- Early Home Care classes will be held virtually. Our Clinic Coordinator team will continue to assist you with signing up. Attendees will receive an invitation to the remote EHC day-of.
- Our Prenatal Circle Care program is on hold.
- Our Postpartum Circle Care groups have been discontinued. A 1-2 week virtual postpartum visit with a CNM will be offered instead (unless an in-person visit is needed).
- Our Well Fed breastfeeding and postpartum group has been transformed into a Well Fed Facebook group. We are trialing a virtual meetup and will continue if there is interest and success.
- All staff meetings are being held via videoconference.
While some of these may seem like extreme measures, we believe they are necessary to protect our patients, our staff, and our facilities from contact with people who are sick or exposed to COVID-19. As healthcare providers, we have dedicated ourselves to protecting the health and wellbeing of our patients, their families, and our communities.
We will continue to reassess and adapt our plan as necessary and will keep you updated via our website and our Facebook page. As always, please reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your understanding, cooperation, and support.
Pat Hinck, APRN, CNM
Anna Hepsø, RN
Steve Calvin, MD
March 19, 2020
News release from American Association of Birth Centers (AABC): Freestanding Birth Centers Offer Options During Covid-19 Pandemic
March 17, 2020
As the global and local situation of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, MBC remains committed to the health and safety of our patients, staff, and community. Here is a summary of our latest efforts:
We are making a concerted effort to limit the number of people coming in to the birth centers to only necessary visitors. We are no longer scheduling Well Woman Exams and are encouraging those folks to return later in the year. We have asked non-critical staff to work from home. After this week, we will not be allowing tours of our birth rooms, and their use will be restricted to birth. Our orientations and early home care classes will be moved to an online format. As we solidify these new processes, we will communicate the details with those affected.
We are asking MBC clients to also help us in this effort: please limit who you bring with you to your clinic visits as much as possible. Your birth team is still welcome for your birth, but please ask any other visitors waiting to meet baby to do so virtually or wait until you get home.
We are continuing to follow recommendations from public health authorities, which are evolving on a daily basis, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are sad about the loss of in-person community but are committed to providing alternatives whenever possible. Some of the changes we are making include the following:
- We will not be hosting in-person Well Fed for the time being. We will be inviting our postpartum clients to connect via a new Facebook group, and if there’s interest, a weekly video chat meet-up. Follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.
- We have suspended Postpartum Circle Care for the time being. We will still check in with you by phone, which has been our practice, and we will be offering 1-on-1 postpartum clinic visits with a CNM. We plan to offer a virtual option for this visit if preferred, and will communicate that directly with affected clients.
- We are holding off on signing up new clients for Prenatal Circle Care sessions for now.
Our May 3rd breastfeeding class will still be happening in some format. In the next few weeks we will have an update on that.
- We have converted our staff meetings from in-person to virtual.
- We are looking at all options to provide care during this time of recommended social distancing, including phone and virtual visits.
- Blooma, Childbirth Collective, Babywearing Twin Cities, and Langford Chiropractic have temporarily suspended their use of our St. Paul Education Space. Some good news: Blooma is hosting remote yoga and childbirth education, and Childbirth Collective will be hosting Parent Topic Nights via Facebook Live. Please follow the above links to their Facebook pages for more information. We look forward to welcoming them all back to MBC when the time is right.
The health and well-being of our patients and staff remains our top priority. We continue to ask all patients and staff who aren’t feeling well or have a potential exposure to COVID-19 to stay home or call ahead before coming in, to be triaged over the phone. Our staff are working diligently to disinfect all workspaces, common areas, and patient care areas frequently. We have also asked our staff to follow social distancing recommendations outside of work to reduce their risk of exposure, and we would ask the same of all of our patients. We recommend that you follow good hygiene practices and prioritize self-care to keep yourselves healthy.
We will continue to communicate the latest updates on a regular basis via our website and Facebook page. Thank you for choosing the Minnesota Birth Center. Be assured that we’re with you all the way, even in these most challenging of times. Please reach out to info@theminnesotabirthcenter.
March 14, 2020
MBC is continuing to adapt our response to COVID-19 to protect our patients, staff, and community.
- Well Fed is cancelled for Monday, March 16th. Please check our website or Facebook page for future dates.
- We will be screening all patients and visitors upon arrival to the birth center for symptoms of acute respiratory illness or recent exposure to COVID-19. We continue to ask all patients and visitors to stay home or call first if symptomatic or have had potential exposure.
- We are also asking staff to stay home with symptoms of respiratory illness. We are developing contingency plans in case of short staffing to ensure our clients continue to have the option of OOH birth.
- We have put in place protocols for frequent disinfecting of hard surfaces with antiviral and antibacterial cleaning agents. We are putting away childrens’ toys and books for now.
- We will be making Orientation available in online format as an option to all. In-person tours can be scheduled for those interested. We will continue to hold small group orientations as scheduled this week for those who would prefer to attend (Monday in St. Paul and Wednesday in Minneapolis).
- We want to limit visitors to those that are necessary. We are asking that people who aren’t part of the birth team plan to meet baby upon arrival to home (no visitors waiting in waiting rooms while mom is laboring).
Questions? Feedback? Please let us know how we can support you by reaching out to us at info@theminnesotabirthcenter.
March 12, 2020
The patients and providers of the Minnesota Birth Center have understandable concern about the implications of COVID-19 for their health and safety. Our primary concern is to protect those who have entrusted themselves and their babies to our care, as well as to ensure the safety of our MBC team. In doing so, our goal is to not only protect the MBC community, but also limit the potential strain on our local healthcare system.
What we Know About COVID-19
The situation is obviously changing on a daily basis, and we will follow all recommendations of public health authorities. In recent days the number of cases within Minnesota has climbed, leading to event cancellations and some school closings. It remains to be seen whether the spread will accelerate. There are many unknowns.
What is known is that most people infected with COVID-19 recover and that very few develop severe or lethal complications. The highest risk of severe complications is in the elderly or those with pre-existing medical illness. Severe complications do not appear to be more likely in pregnancy (unlike the flu which is extremely dangerous for pregnant women). At this point children under age 10 also seem to be less susceptible.
The Minnesota Birth Center will continue to take great care of our patients as we follow the recommendations of public health authorities. We will make all necessary adjustments as the situation evolves. We are cautiously optimistic that the spread of COVID-19 will peak and then decline over the next few months. We may see an increased interest in out of hospital births during this time. Our leadership team plan is to remain vigilant, calm and flexible. We will keep you informed and we welcome questions, which can be directed to info@theminnesotabirthcenter.
At this time if you or your family members have a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or fever, or believe you could have been exposed to COVID-19 please do not come to the birth center for clinical visits, classes or events (including Early Home Care class, Postpartum Circle Care, and Well Fed). If you are a client of the Minnesota Birth Center and are feeling ill or believe you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus please call the birth center and ask to speak to a nurse or midwife.
If you are considering care at the Minnesota Birth Center and have a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, or fever, or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, please do not come to the birth center for orientation. In the interim, you are welcome to call our Front Desk to schedule a future first visit, and we can ensure you attend orientation at a later date.
Minnesota Birth Center is a member of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Birth Centers. We are working jointly with the other birth centers in Minnesota to create a plan to collaborate our staffing for all current birth center sites in the event our local hospital systems become overwhelmed.
Thank you for your continued trust in our model of care. We will disseminate additional information to our staff and clients as needed in the coming weeks. For the most up-to-date information, please visit us on Facebook.
On behalf of the Minnesota Birth Center team,
Patricia Hinck, APRN, CNM
Anna Hepsø, RN, IBCLC
Steve Calvin, MD