Maternity wards still restricting access to fathers

Renovated delivery room in the public Pelgulinna Maternity Hospital in Tallinn.
Renovated delivery room in the public Pelgulinna Maternity Hospital in Tallinn. Source: Linda Liis Eek/Pelgulinna Maternity Hospital

Hospitals in Estonia are allowed to create their own rules about who can and cannot visit them during the pandemic. Rules allowing fathers to access maternity wards differ across hospitals and ETV's "Aktuaalne Kaamera" looked at the situation on Monday.

In maternity hospitals in Tallinn, fathers are allowed to access the post-partum family ward only if they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have recovered from the virus. At Tartu University Hospital, visitors are allowed when they present evidence they are immune to coronavirus, ETV's current news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday night.

The Pelgulinn maternity hospital, which is part of West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH), says it will reopen post-partum family wards as the coronavirus outbreak eases, though not everyone will be allowed to visit. "We have decided that we will only allow fully vaccinated family members to the family ward," the maternity hospital's Facebook page said. This means that an unvaccinated father will not be able to attend the birth of his child.

"Either he has been fully vaccinated or has recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months," Arkadi Popov, LTKH chair, said.

Popov said that it is necessary to ensure the safety of both patients and all visitors. He added the possibility of using the service to show a negative test was discussed but abandoned.

"People who have even been tested and are allowed to the hospital and their test becomes positive while they are already in the hospital. This is one potential risk factor for other patients in the maternity hospital," Popov said.

Popov does not consider the situation discriminatory and said other hospitals behave similarly. The women's clinic of East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH) also plans to open family wards under the same condition. Tartu University Hospital notes on its social media account that since the beginning of June: "Patients in hospitals have been invited to be visited by people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccinated or suffered from it, and can also provide a certificate to prove this."

Ragnar Vaiknemets, head of the Health Board's health management department, said hospitals make their own decisions. "They can make these decisions by protecting their employees, patients, and the Health Board supports all decisions that help fight the COVID-19 virus," Vaiknemets said.

Maret Kruus, a lawyer dealing with legal issues in medicine, said that a health care institution has an obligation to provide high-quality health care services, and one of the prerequisites for this is that the risk of infection is minimized.

Kruus added that if the infection continues lowering, such premises may be may disproportionate.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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