Effective 12.14.20 the University of Washington Valley Hospital will be splitting from the policy revision adopted by the other two campuses last month and limiting support to one person only. Please add your signature to the petition below and reach out to the hospital today.
UW Valley Hospital
ATTN: Stacey DeMaranville, Director of Mother Baby
ATTN: Rich Rudman, CEO
4445 Talbot Rd S, Renton, WA 98055
Dear Ms. DeMaranville and UW Valley Administration,
On behalf of my doula colleagues and expectant families in the Puget Sound area; we at PALS Doulas are writing to express our deep disappointment and concern about the updated visitor policy announced to be effective December 14, 2020. In that policy obstetric patients are limited to one support person. This change effectively eliminates professional birth doula support for patients in labor. Having seen this conversation recently at both Overlake and the University of Washington system revised to include doula support, we respectfully as you to consider. To date, all other hospital systems in the greater Seattle area are still including doulas as members of the care team. We believe there is value in the additional comfort and support that comprises the heart of doulas work, and that when doulas are included as members fo the care team; the families we collectively support win. Doula work is social justice work. By excluding doulas, we believe that these policy changes will negatively impact the most vulnerable populations.
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. As fellow essential workers, we understand the seriousness of COVID19, but believe this change in policy will cause lasting trauma. Many expecting families are terrified in the current environment and lack the extended family and community support they otherwise would have. Denying birthing families access to the support of their choosing negatively impacts their birth outcomes, immediate and long-term.
Nationally, an estimated 6% of birthing families choose doula support (Listening to Mothers Survey, 2018), though locally we estimate that utilization rate to be 2-2.5x higher. In 2019, 3,150 deliveries took place at UW Valley (hca.wa.gov 2019 Preliminary Delivery Statistics). With an estimated utilization rate of even 10%, that equates to 300 doula supported births. 300 doula supported births seems a small number relative to the control of the pandemic but means everything to these families.
When we learned of the University of Washington proposing this policy, we circulated a petition that gathered over 1000 signatures signed by doulas, perinatal professionals, and existing and expecting families. We ask that you reconsider it.