Ottawa father denied access to delivery room for son's birth due to COVID-19 protocols, despite negative test result
OTTAWA -- Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Ontario hospitals have had strict protocols in place for visitors across their campuses and birthing units.
For one Ottawa family, the screening process and restrictions meant the mother would have to give birth alone, without her husband.
"I was speaking to my son directly," said father Jeff Lewin-Coudriau on Friday.
"I said. 'I’m sorry Raphael, daddy should be there.'"
Lewin-Coudriau said when his wife Pascale begun displaying cold symptoms, each of them went to get a COVID-19 test, and both the results came back as negative.
"Because she was still experiencing some symptoms, they wanted to retest her," Lewin-Coudriau told CTV News Ottawa.
“I followed everything and remained calm and patient through this entire process, only to be shut out at the last minute.”
Due to confidentiality reasons and patient privacy, the Ottawa Hospital does not comment on specific cases, but says in a statement to CTV News Ottawa:
"In order to protect patients, staff and essential visitors, The Ottawa Hospital screens everyone entering the hospital for symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone who presents with symptoms will not be allowed to enter the hospital. For birthing mothers, both they and their support person are screened for symptoms. Only support persons who pass the screening will be allowed in during labour. Birthing mothers who do not pass screening will be placed on COVID-19 precautions, and their support person would not be able to enter the hospital. This is to protect them, their baby, and other patients on the unit."
Lewin-Coudriau returned to the couple’s home, and watched his wife give birth to their son through his cellphone.
“It was very devastating to not be there in person to hold him, so he could have both his mom and his dad when he joined us.”
It’s a reality many expectant parents have faced in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have some personal experience with this, my baby was born during the pandemic and I wasn’t allowed in either, so it hurts,” said University of Ottawa Epidemiologist Dr. Raywat Deonandan
“This is the reality right now, and especially given the threat of the new variants, which are hyper transmissible, possibly more lethal, we are in a particularly dire time, and we can’t really risk introducing a new infection either inside or outside the hospital. “
According to Deonandan, it is still unclear how vulnerable newborn babies are to the virus, but it is best to be cautious.
"You don’t want to introduce that level of complication, especially in a maternal-infant dynamic that is particularly complicated," said Dr. Deonandan.
"We don’t know what the possible outcome will be, so let’s not introduce a new threat to this new life."
Lewin-Coudriau understands the policy is there to protect patients, and told CTV News Ottawa, although it is difficult to accept, the father of four, is grateful for a healthy baby boy.
"Nothing can tear us apart," said Lewin-Coudriau.