BY MARTIE EMORY
While we’ve all been facing the challenges of COVID-19 together, in ways we never imagined, everyone’s journey is different. Having served three generations of women in the Winston-Salem area since opening its doors in 1970, Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates has taken on an even larger nurturing role during the recent pandemic, offering peace of mind to expectant mothers who faced an unexpected twist in their journey towards motherhood!
With quite a few of their own staff also recently pregnant, it has been an uplifting opportunity to strengthen the patient/physician relationship even more, with an added bonus of expanding the Lyndhurst family!
STRESS TIMES TWO
While enormously rewarding, pregnancy can be a stressful event during the best of times. Toss in a global pandemic, and all of Lyndhurst’s physicians have found themselves reminding patients (as well as their pregnant co-workers!) of the importance of mindfulness and self-care. That could mean prenatal yoga, outdoor walks, or any other form of light exercise they enjoy, meditation, and keeping in touch with friends.
“We are fortunate to live in a time where the Internet makes long-distance connecting easy,” explains Dr. Tristen Sanz. Zoom and other media platforms are excellent resources for staying in contact with friends and family, and also enrolling in exercise and prenatal classes, all of which are proven to reduce stress and assist in the labor process.
Calming fear with fact also eases the mind. As expected, the number one question from expectant mothers is this: Will my partner be allowed to come with me? Both birthing facilities in Winston-Salem allow one support partner throughout the birthing process, and any procedure updates can be found on their websites. Mothers-to-be also worry they will be separated from their baby if they test positive. “We are still learning about the effects of the virus on newborns, and both locations are poised to make informed decisions on masking, hand hygiene, and exposure,” says Dr. Sanz. “We try to keep the birth process as unique as possible, including delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding.”
Several Lyndhurst staff members shared insight on their personal journey through a tricky transition. “Becoming a new mom comes with so much joy and excitement, but what about being pregnant and becoming a new mom during a pandemic, much less being pregnant and also being a health care worker?” says Addison Oswalt, RN, and one of Lyndhurst’s OB coordinators, as well as a labor and delivery nurse at Forsyth Medical Center. “I’ve had to adjust a lot of my expectations of what this pregnancy and what my delivery will look like, but I’m refusing to let these unprecedented times rob me of the joy of the life that is growing inside of me. I believe all these babies being formed and born during this season are going to be something special. As a pregnant nurse, caring for other pregnant women, I can only hope to encourage them to choose joy over fear as we all wait for our little miracles to be in our arms.”
Having missed some traditional pre-birth moments such as a family baby shower, ultrasound technician Olivia Gills admits being pregnant during a pandemic is not something she would have ever expected to experience. “The joys of pregnancy can turn into fears of having to deliver without my support system not being there with me. I’m frightful of contracting the virus, or worse, my baby contracting the virus shortly after delivery. I am a planner, so this pandemic is taking me out of my element and forcing me to roll with the punches, knowing I have zero control over anything. I am grateful though, to currently be healthy carrying a baby who I can’t wait to meet in the months to come! I just pray things will go back to some level of normalcy soon.”
Lyndhurst employee Brooke Scott gave birth in May to a beautiful baby girl, and admits to feeling understandable frustration when realizing she would be asked to wear a mask when outside her hospital room, would be tested for COVID-19 as soon as she arrived, and would only be allowed one support person. But fast forward to those precious moments after her new daughter’s arrival, and both Brooke and her husband admit it was amazing to savor the experience just with each other (and their wonderful physician of course!). “There were no distractions,” says Brooke. “I was able to breastfeed immediately without worrying about visitors or feeling like I needed to cover up. My husband and I were able to focus on our new bundle of joy – just the two of us. It was truly special.”
They were blessed to be able to FaceTime with their older daughter and some anxious grandparents during the process, and although their vision had been to have everyone present, in the end, there were still happy grandparents and an excited big sister who welcomed them home. Nothing had diminished the love and joy of adding a new family member!
Focusing on the end result of healthy, happy babies – and parents! – Lyndhurst is following all suggested guidelines for visitation and cleaning, and they currently have a staged plan to open the office for additional visitors as needed. Even before obtaining medical-grade personal protective equipment, the staff called on several employee mothers to sew fabric masks for the staff, and partnered with Project Mask WS who generously sewed 500 masks for their pregnant patients.
Dr. Sanz says they also reassure expectant mothers who do contract COVID-19 with dedicated exam rooms to provide care for those exposed to the virus. Waiting room seating has been arranged to maintain social distancing of at least six feet, and the community room previously tagged for patient education has become an overflow waiting room, and every area is thoroughly disinfected. For routine-risk pregnancies, physicians may mingle telemedicine visits from your home with regular in-office visits, something new amid the current situation that limits in-office visitors.
“We’re also proud to be community partners with Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in detecting and preventing the spread of the virus,” says Dr. Sanz, adding that patients receive real-time updates on visitation policies at both hospitals. “I always advise that a hospital birth provides a safer and healthier experience than a home birth, and both facilities have set up universal testing of pregnant patients during their admission for delivery. Even amid a pandemic, a hospital delivery is your safest option! Another common rumor I dispel involves the mandatory separation of the mother and newborn child. This is not true, and I welcome any pregnant mother to have this discussion with her provider.”
As the next few months unfold with likely more changes, the staff will continue to welcome expectant mothers with comfort, reassurance, and the personal care they are known for!
“As a practice, we have worked diligently from early on in this pandemic to stay in touch with ever-changing local, state, and national guidelines,” says Debbie Zimmermann, PA-C. “We continually make changes in the way we work to reduce the virus spread among staff and patients.”
Please visit their website at lyndhurstgyn.com prior to your visit for the latest updates regarding office guidelines, or call the Winston-Salem office at 336-765-9350, the Kernersville office at 336-993-4532, the Mount Airy office at 336-789-9076, or the King office at 336-765-9350. The Winston-Salem practice is located at 111 Hanestown Court, Suite 151.