Rotunda defends ongoing restrictions on partners attending appointments

Rotunda Defends Ongoing Restrictions On Partners Attending Appointments
The maternity hospital said there has recently been 'a significant increase' in pregnant women contracting 'severe' Covid infections. Photo: PA
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Vivienne Clarke

Dublin’s Rotunda maternity hospital has defended ongoing restrictions on partners attending with patients, saying there has recently been “a significant increase” in pregnant women contracting “severe” Covid-19 infections.

The master of the hospital, Prof Fergal Malone, said restrictions could not be lifted when 60 per cent of patients and partners “walking around the Rotunda” were not vaccinated.


The hospital carries out surveys of the vaccination status of patients and their partners every week, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. This week only 39 per cent of expectant mothers were vaccinated and only 41 per cent of their partners were fully vaccinated.

“To be honest, that's disappointing. It’s not surprising that there's some vaccine hesitancy – but what that means is 60 per cent of patients and their partners walking around the Rotunda hospital today are not vaccinated and are therefore vulnerable to Covid infection – more likely to transmit.

“If we can get that vaccination number up – we will see it being safe to relax all restrictions. I would encourage every single pregnant woman, please get vaccinated.”


Prof Malone defended the Rotunda hospital’s record on visiting hours and said there were new pathways for early pregnancy units scans, also for any exceptional news or complex situations, “we always make exceptions. That continues to happen.”

However, he pointed out that parts of the hospital date back to 1757 and there is no ventilation or air conditioning in the old building. Included in that section are the main waiting rooms for the emergency department and ultrasound department.

“There just isn't physically the space to put large numbers of adults sitting together in a confined space. The ultrasound waiting room has just 12 seats in it. If eight or nine mothers are sitting there, suddenly there are 16 or 18 adults because they have a partner with them in a small room that is not ventilated and not capable of being ventilated. That is a very serious risk.

“It's the same with the emergency department waiting room area – there are only 10 seats.”


'Aggressive' Delta variant

All maternity units to allow partners to accompany...
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Dr Peter McKenna, HSE clinical director of women and infants health, last week said the Covid-19 Delta variant was “more aggressive” when it came to affecting pregnant women, who were making up a “disproportionate” number of those hospitalised with the disease and in intensive care in recent weeks.

Amid criticism of restrictions on partners attending maternity hospitals, fresh HSE guidance was issued to maternity hospitals last week saying partners can accompany pregnant women for 12-week scans and for caesarean sections.

It said the aim of the new guidance was to try to return to pre-pandemic visiting rights and that partners who were incorrectly denied entry to hospitals recently had received apologies.

Health officials have said maternity hospitals would have to provide explanations for situations where guidance on visits for partners was not followed.

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