The care of pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic – response of a large health system in metropolitan New York.
The rapid progression of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak presented extraordinary challenges to the US health care system, particularly straining resources in hard hit areas such as the New York metropolitan region. As a result, major changes in the delivery of obstetrical care were urgently needed, while maintaining patient safety on our maternity units. As the largest health system in the region, with 10 hospitals providing obstetrical services, and delivering over 30,000 babies annually, we needed to respond to this crisis in an organized, deliberate fashion. Our hospital footprint for Obstetrics was dramatically reduced to make room for the rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, and established guidelines were quickly modified to reduce potential staff and patient exposures. New communication strategies were developed to facilitate maternity care across our hospitals, with significantly limited resources in personnel, equipment, and space. The lessons learned from these unexpected challenges offered an opportunity to reassess the delivery of obstetrical care without compromising quality and safety. These lessons may well prove valuable after the peak of the crisis has passed.