UW Medical visitor policy petition
11.17.2020
Dear UW Medical Administration,

On behalf of our fellow doulas 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, Tuesday, 11.17.2020. In that policy obstetric patients are limited to one support person. This change effectively eliminates professional birth doula support for patients in labor. No other hospital system in the greater Seattle area has barred doulas from serving their clients during this pandemic. Doula work is social justice work. 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). In 2019, 1,805 deliveries took place at UWMC and an additional 1,085 took place at NW Hospital (hca.wa.gov 2019 Preliminary Delivery Statistics). That equates to 108 doula supported births at UWMC and 65 at NW. 175 doula supported births seems a small number relative to the control of the pandemic but means everything to these families.

The individuals signed below urgently request that you revise your visitor policy for Obstetrics patients to include professional labor support.

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