Update: 12/2/20 Overlake will allow 1 labor support person/doula with proof of certification.

Overlake Medical Center and Clinics
ATTN: Patient Relations
ATTN: Sandy Salmon – Director of Women’s and Infants’ Services
ATTN: J. Michael Marsh-CEO
1035 116th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

Dear Overlake Administration, We are writing to express our deep disappointment and concern about the updated visitor policy announced, Monday, 11.24.2020. In that policy obstetric patients are limited to one support person. I, as a laboring person, now have to choose between my primary support/partner and the presence of the doula I fired to support our family through this time of transition. NO other hospital system in the greater Seattle area have barred doulas from serving their clients during this pandemic. We believe that these policy changes will negatively impact the most vulnerable populations as doula work is social justice work.

Governor Jay Inslee, in his March 23, 2020 proclamation, designated doulas as essential health workers in the Healthcare/Public Health Sector Profile, bullet 2:

• Health care providers and caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level
practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, midwives and DOULAS
(emphasis added) attending facility-based or home-based births, alternative healthcare
providers, social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians
and technologists).

We applaud and thank you for your dedication to protecting the lives of healthcare workers and the public. Our doula, as a fellow essential worker, understands the seriousness of COVID19, as do we. We also know that World Health Organization supports the rights of birthing families to have a companion of choice in labor, stating a companion of choice “can bridge gaps between a woman in labor and the healthcare workers around her, offer massage or hand-holding to help relieve pain, and provide reassurance to help her feel in control.” Our doula is our companion of choice. In this current environment, we lack the extended family and community support we would have otherwise would have had access to. Research supports the positive impact of doulas. We are well aware that denying us, and other birthing families access, to the support of our choosing has the potential to negatively impact birth outcomes, immediate and long-term. The stress of this policy change is currently negatively impacting us, and certainly other families. Nationally, an estimated 6% of birthing families choose doula support (Listening to Mothers Survey, 2018), though locally we estimate that number to be 2-2.5x higher. In 2019, 3,537 deliveries took place at Overlake (hca.wa.gov 2019 Preliminary
Delivery Statistics). Even at 6%, that equates to 212 doula supported births at Overlake. 212 doula supported births seems like a small number relative to control of the pandemic but means everything to our family. As a patient of Overlake, I urgently request that you revise your visitor policy for Obstetrics patients to include professional labor support. Sincerely,
PALS Doulas on the behalf of local perinatal professionals and area families

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