Patricia Fox, a midwife at Jamaica Hospital, is meeting with eight expectant mothers over Zoom.
“It’s group prenatal care,” said Fox.
The women are participating in the hospital’s popular Centering Pregnancy Program.
It was introduced at Jamaica Hospital in 2014 as a unique method to reduce preterm births and maternal mortality rates, and increase breastfeeding rates.
Rather than traditional one-on-one doctor’s visits, the women met in a group setting for their check-ups. But when the pandemic hit and social distancing rules took effect, administrators moved the group meetings online.
Back in the fall, the hospital received a grant to keep the program going through the pandemic. Now, participating mothers-to-be are given all of these tools in order to do some of their prenatal check-ups at home.
The women have the ability to weigh themselves, measure their growing stomachs — and even listen to their baby’s heartbeat and test their urine.
“What I love about it is there is greater engagement. So before the patients were just being told stuff, now they’re actually informing us,” said Dr. Janice Krystal Ascencio, the director of Under 30 Women’s Health at Jamaica Hospital.
New mom Nyasha James went through the sessions before delivering her daughter at Jamaica Hospital in January. She admits she was hesitant about the virtual program at first.
“It’s a situation where you don’t want to come out with your kids and have them in this environment. So being at home was definitely the most comfortable and convenient thing to do,” said James, a Jamaica resident.
Minimizing exposure to the virus is one upside of the remote sessions.
Maintaining the camaraderie of the women, while they’re apart, was more of a challenge, but it seems to be working.
NY1 was allowed to sit in on part of a virtual session. The group of expectant mothers are due to give birth in April.