Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital continues to deliver babies and tries to keep its patients safe by screening individuals who come to the facility and also by limiting mothers to one guest.
In fact, the hospital is reporting its highest birthrate in years, and CEO Keith Hobbs pledged that USC-VHH will continue to deliver babies throughout the crisis.
Among the hospital’s newest mothers is Tiffany Yzaguirre, who gave birth to a healthy girl — Blake — via C-section on March 23. The 25-year-old said she felt the hospital staff was accommodating and that everything went well, even amidst all of the attention focused on the disease, which is caused by a novel coronavirus that emerged late last year.
“In the midst of the coronavirus and pandemic going on, it was a really eerie feeling to be at the hospital, but they took all the precautions they needed too,” Yzaguirre said. “They screened everyone at the door, which was slightly intimidating, but overall it was a great experience.”
Her doctor, Steven Hartford, a 35-year resident of LCF, said he has delivered babies for 36 years at the hospital. He said USC-VHH has sensible yet strict policies for getting inside and being safe since the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re taking precautions to protect them from exposure,” Hartford said. “They come in and feel comfortable. It’s kind of business as usual with strict precautions and extra care.”
Susan Hawkes, the clinical director of the Women and Family Center at USC-VHH, said the hospital has had an increase in its birth rate despite the pandemic.
“In January, we hit the highest rate we have seen in five years,” she said. “We are an up-and-coming force within the community with our deliveries.”
Hawkes reminded worried mothers to follow the advice of their obstetricians, stay away from the people who are sick and wash their hands often.
“All of those very basic safety precautions with regard to not spreading the virus,” she said, adding that pregnant women should try to be careful and let their partners do the shopping.
“Act like a 65-year-old who’s not supposed to go out,” Hartford, the obstetrician, said.
The hospital currently checks the temperature of everyone who comes through the main entrance and asks visitors if they have symptoms. Yzaguirre said this was her experience when she arrived to USC-VHH for the procedure. She said she was only able to have her husband, Clayton Geer, join her, as the hospital was not accepting any visitors.
“The hospital was generally pretty empty, other than anyone like staff or if they were having some sort of a procedure,” Yzaguirre said. “There wasn’t anyone really walking around. Everyone was secluded to their room.”
The couple did receive a steak and lobster dinner with dessert during their stay.
“It was unexpected but cute,” Yzaguirre said. “I got a card saying congratulations. It was special and nice.”
Yzaguirre said she would “most definitely” recommend the hospital for other expectant mothers.
“They took care of us and were super attentive,” she said. “All the nurses were amazing with advice, support and everything we needed.”
She also said her doctor was very caring.
“He’s a great doctor with a perfect bedside manner,” Yzaguirre said of Hartford. “I had no issues at all.”
Hartford said the virus is “weighing heavily” on everybody; the hospital has two meetings a day on the subject.
“And they put out bulletins to medical staff everyday as to what the situations are,” Hartford said. “What the changes are … what’s new, what to do. We’re all on board and it’s a great team effort.”