Today, the Doula Association of Alberta (DAA) met collaboratively with stakeholders from Alberta Health Services and the Alberta government to discuss site access for doulas at acute care sites across the province. In summary:
* At this time, there will be no change to the number of designated support persons at AHS acute care facilities.
* Given the declining case counts, hospital admissions, and ICU loads across the province, AHS expects to reinstate the standard maternity policy of two designated support people across all acute care sites sometime in the next two to four weeks. This policy is in no way tied to the provincial "Open for Summer" plan, and will not necessarily coincide with any specific re-opening phase. As per emergency public health protocol, AHS must observe a full infection incubation period after any change to restrictions before changing protocols again. There are also several outstanding site outbreaks that are currently being addressed.
* Any upcoming change to acute care site visitation will be communicated directly to the Doula Association of Alberta and other birthwork stakeholders across the province in real-time to ensure that all perinatal care providers have access to the same policy information.
* AHS has committed to continuing policy conversations around doula support, outside the context of the pandemic emergency response teams, in order to build a standardized guideline moving forward. This will be informed by a joint taskforce including AHS representatives and/or physician leadership from each of the five zones as well as birthworkers from across the province, independent of any specific association or membership body.
* The DAA intends to use future conversations with AHS to uplift the role of a doula within the context of hospital sites and to increase collaboration and mutual respect. The DAA does not support formal regulation of our profession, and will not promote a policy where AHS would regulate doulas.
While we are disappointed that an exception for doulas could not be established at this time, the Doula Association of Alberta looks forward to continuing conversations with Alberta Health Services in support of professional practice standards and family-centered care in the long-term.
Further updates to accessibility and public health guidance will be released as soon as any changes are confirmed.