Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) is pleased to report Gov. Cuomo recently signed an executive order with a directive which clarified a previous order barring all visitors in hospitals as a response to COVID-19. The new directive clarified that a pregnant woman’s support person during childbirth is still considered essential, and thereby mandates all hospitals to allow pregnant women in labor to have one support person in the delivery room. Previously, different hospital systems had changed their policies, and in some cases restricted mothers from having a support person in the delivery room.
“This is an issue my wife and I have been following very closely as we are expecting our first child in about six to seven weeks,” said Byrne. “This is not about having a ‘Kodak moment’ in the hospital. It’s about ensuring expecting mothers can have someone they know and trust by their side during a very vulnerable and, sadly sometimes frightening time in their life. Maternal mortality is still a serious issue in New York state. I believe it’s important that one support person, healthy and properly screened, be allowed to be there to provide assistance.”
Strict guidelines are in place regarding support persons to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect the health of patients, healthcare providers and all other essential workers in our healthcare system. According to the executive order, the support person is also allowed to be with the mother for the immediate postpartum period. The new updated New York State Department of Health guidance also clarified that a support person is considered essential in pediatric emergencies. Again, this important clarification is for only one support person, and a patient’s entire family still cannot come to visit in the hospital.
“For many couples expecting a child this year, this has been a major area of concern,” continued Byrne. “The CDC and NYSDOH have shared guidance documents and information for pregnant women, but the truth is it still remains largely unknown how the virus’s effect on pregnant women and their babies differs from the virus’s effect on the general public. This unknown can make the current pandemic even more stressful for these young families. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and his team, as well as my colleagues at the state Legislature, for taking this important action which will, hopefully, help bring couples planning to expand their family some much-needed comfort during this difficult time.”
The Department of Health requires that any support person must not be showing symptoms of COVID-19, nor be suspect of having the virus. They are also required to be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 by hospital staff, which includes a temperature check every 12 hours, and for potential exposures to people who have tested positive for the virus.
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne is the ranking member of the Assembly Health Committee and represents the 94th Assembly District, including portions of Westchester and Putnam Counties.