During a pandemic, infectious disease specialists’s advice is to treat everyone as infected and contagious. This is the principle behind the classifications for two separate labor and delivery rooms today.
Every pregnant woman needs to go through a triage or screening process at the emergency room (ER) — even when she’s already in labor. Doctors will ask you for symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19 so they can place you in the proper classification.
One labor and delivery room is for “COVID-19-suspect,” or pregnant women who passed the triage. The other is the labor and delivery room for COVID-19 confirmed or positive, for those who may fail the triage. Some patients have no symptoms but are still contagious, so all healthcare workers in both rooms will have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
Hospitals will charge you for masks, goggles, face or fluid shield, and full PPE
If you’re due to give birth during quarantine, prepare extra money because you’d have to pay for your attending health workers’ PPE. This includes masks, goggles, face or fluid shield, protective suit, etc. of each of the doctors and nurses who will look after you during your hospital stay.
Even if the PPE is donated by charities or non-government organizations, hospitals will still charge the patient for its use. It’s challenging to procure PPEs today due to a lack of supply. Companies that manufacture masks, goggles, and other PPE are still trying to keep up with the demand brought about by the pandemic. According to the law of supply and demand, when the demand is high and the supply is low, the goods are priced higher.
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Some hospitals also need the money to spend on the process of disinfection of reusable PPEs, which need to be done after each use.
The added cost also applies to any laboratory tests or diagnostic exams, such as having an ultrasound and nonstress test (NST), that you choose to take in a hospital.
How much do hospitals charge for masks, goggles, face or fluid shield, and full PPE?
Different hospitals charge different amounts, but a good gauge is the hospital’s room charge. The bigger your room accommodations in the hospital, the more expensive it is. The cost of your attending health workers’ protective gear would be proportional to its rate. (Your room rate is also a reasonable estimate of how much your attending physician’s professional fee rates will cost you.)
Based on feedback from moms who have given birth during quarantine, if you give birth in a private hospital and stay in a small private room, expect one N95 mask to be priced at about Php200. If you’ve chosen a birthing suite, one N95 mask can cost you as much as Php500. The cost of one full PPE for one person can be as low around Php650 to as high as Php2,500 to Php5,000.
If you're classified as COVID-19 confirmed or positive, multiply that with the number of health workers who would need to be present during your birthing.
The only upside is that hospitals try to limit the number of people required in a procedure, so you don't have to incur extra expenses. In the same way that partners are not currently allowed in the labor and delivery rooms these days, limiting the number of health workers present is also for the safety of everyone. They will also make sure your stay in the hospital is as short as possible.