Prenatal appointments change substantially amid pandemic

Posted at 6:06 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 21:06:55-04

Prenatal appointments for women and families during the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically changed.

Families that have gone through pregnancies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic would normally head to their OB/GYN’s office for in-person checkups. Now, doctors are encouraging patients to take advantage of telemedicine.

“We’re spacing out visits. We’re able to do some of the early, prenatal care visits via telemedicine," said Dr. Christine Lopopolo, Tenet Health Central Coast Chair, OB/GYN Department, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

Lopopolo says prenatal appointments early in pregnancies don’t require in-person visits.

“When someone has a problem and we pick it up on the phone visit, then we’ll have them come into the office,” Lopopolo said. “A lot of the early stuff is education, not so much that we’re doing a physical exam or something that requires being here.”

For Brandy Marquardt, who just had a baby girl last Tuesday, some of her appointments were via telemedicine.

“I felt like it was a little more convenient to be able to check in that way,” Marquardt said. “I had a really easy pregnancy. I didn’t have any complications or anything like that, so I felt comfortable with that.”

For Mercedes McLaughlin, who had her baby in January, she went through a “normal pregnancy” and had all in-person appointments.

“Near the end, I was diagnosed with hypertension due to my pregnancy,” McLaughlin said. “And if I hadn’t been going in to the doctor’s office and they hadn’t been taking my blood pressure, we wouldn’t have known that. It puts the baby at a higher risk.”

Going forward, Lopopolo says telemedicine will be beneficial to those who use it.

“Especially in gynecology, it would be nice to continue telemedicine,” Lopopolo said. “It’s just so efficient. A patient can be at work, doing their job, and as soon as they’re ready, we can do our 20-minute appointment. Then they can go back to work.”

Lopopolo stressed the notion that patients will never be near suspected COVID-19 patients when they have face-to-face appointments.