Pregnancy is a special time in a mother’s life, filled with joy, anticipation, and the wonder of bringing new life into the world. It’s a unique journey that holds the promise of creating a special bond with the unborn child, nurturing the baby’s growth, and preparing for the extraordinary process of childbirth.
During this period, expecting mothers deserve access to comprehensive and compassionate healthcare. But lately, access to prenatal and maternity care has faced some limitations. So, what’s an expecting mother to do when there are no OBGYN specialists staffed at the local hospital?
Limited access to appropriate OBGYN care has dampened this beautiful journey for some pregnant women, particularly in rural communities. Hospital closures have been a subject of concern and discussion for several decades. Still, the facts surrounding labor and delivery are a recent alarm.
In the last decade, over 200 medical facilities have eliminated their labor and delivery units, which has affected nearly 7 million women in the United States. This concerning trend can be attributed to several factors, including:
Regardless of the driving forces behind these decisions for closures, the implications can have severe consequences for expecting mothers and their babies in the affected areas.
While pregnant women may be the first to notice—it’s not just expecting mothers that are affected by the aftermath of labor and delivery unit closures. The change extends beyond mere inconvenience. Let’s look at how the community at large is affected by labor and delivery ward closures in hospitals.
Women with already high-risk pregnancies face additional risks during emergency situations. Longer transport times via ambulance can increase the risks associated with childbirth complications and may contribute to adverse outcomes and potentially life-threatening conditions.
The closure of labor and delivery units can place an increased burden on the remaining healthcare facilities, including hospitals and birthing centers. This strain can result in overcrowding, longer wait times, and compromised quality of care due to overwhelmed healthcare providers.
These closures may be disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and those without access to reliable transportation. These groups face challenges in accessing appropriate obstetric care and may experience disparities in health outcomes as a result of local facilities closing in their local hospitals.
Telehealth and video appointments have gained significant popularity in recent years, transforming the way healthcare services are delivered. According to a National Health Interview Survey, nearly 40% of the population has used telehealth services in 2021.
Telehealth is the use of digital communication technologies to provide healthcare services remotely. Video appointments are a subset of telehealth and involve real-time communication between patients and physicians without having to physically travel to a brick and mortar location.
Telehealth and video appointments overcome geographical barriers, making healthcare services more accessible to people in remote areas. Patients can receive care and access specialized healthcare services seeking expert opinions and recommendations without the need for extensive travel.
Telehealth allows expecting mothers to receive quality and consistent prenatal care. Virtual doctor appointments for prenatal care enable healthcare providers to monitor pregnancy progress, identify concerns, and provide necessary guidance remotely. Virtual OBGYN appointments offer a significant advantage for women located in maternity deserts.
In cases of obstetric emergencies, telehealth can play a vital role in triaging and initial consultations. Through video appointments, healthcare providers can assess the severity of the situation and determine the need for immediate transfer to an appropriate facility that is equipped to handle emergencies.
While telehealth services offer valuable solutions—such as convenience and ensuring continuity of care, there are some limitations to consider in the context of labor and delivery. These limitations include:
Expecting mothers need to know that they can count on their OBGYN when they need them most. Considering the ongoing nationwide labor and delivery closures, telehealth serves as peace of mind for pregnant women during this unique time. Virtual doctor appointments allow for the opportunity for patients to address prenatal concerns with an online OBGYN while receiving reassurance along the pregnancy journey, despite the local hospital maternity ward closures.
As we navigate the reality of continuing labor and delivery closures, we embrace telehealth as an integral part of comprehensive prenatal care models. Telehealth visits provide access to quality care for all.
My Virtual Physician provides quality healthcare and supports expecting mothers regardless of physical proximity to a labor and delivery unit. If you’re an expecting mother dealing with maternity ward closures at your local hospital, consider your options when it comes to prenatal care and don’t rule out online OBGYN prenatal care. It’s a remarkable journey to bring new life into the world, let us help make it a positive one.