A clinic is offering an option for pregnant patients that's consistent with the age of social distancing: curbside obstetrics.
The new service is being offered by OBGYN Specialists at its Burnsville location, offering patients a routine checkup without the prolonged exposure of a waiting room and exam room.
It's available to low-risk patients, who receive a 10-minute time slot and pull up their car behind the Burnsville building.
They then stay in a car while a physician's assistant and medical assistant – wearing full PPE gear – perform a routine checkup of the tests that can be done virtually: blood pressure, baby's heartbeat, position of the baby, and vaccines.
OBGYN Specialists says that the checkup only requires 1 minute of physical contact, which is followed by either a 6-foot-plus discussion from the sidewalk, or a virtual visit once the patient is back home – and it's at no additional cost to patients.
The effort is being led by Dr. Regina Cho, who said the clinic was motivated to find "creative ways" of providing prenatal care under social distancing guidelines.
"With the drive to virtualize much of the care we provide during the COVID19 pandemic, there are aspects of prenatal care that still require physical contact," she told BMTN.
"By providing curbside appointments, we can assess all of the in-person needs for some of our low-risk patients in 1-2 minutes including checking a blood pressure, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, assessing for the baby’s position and checking for swelling.
"We can then counsel the patients appropriately, answer their questions, and provide reassurance from a safe distance at the curbside, or by virtual visit, so that our patients receive the exact same quality of care we were providing before coronavirus."
OBGYN Specialists says that as of Monday, 20 patients have had curbside checkups, and they have been well received.
Pending changes to the Stay-at-Home order, and depending on the weather, the clinic will continue to offer the service every day.
Among those who have tried it is Alisha Natvig, of Prior Lake, who said: "It was a great option to be able to have the reassurance of hearing my baby’s heartbeat, get my blood pressure checked, talk through what to expect in the coming weeks, all the normal guidance – without being unnecessarily exposed to germs.”
"It was incredibly efficient; I never left my vehicle, and it was only about 5 minutes in total."