Updated: Jul 23, 2020
There are several Doulas in the Charlotte and surrounding areas that have recently finished the Doula credentialing program for Novant Hospitals. There have been a lot of false statements and half-truths said about and surrounding the program and I just wanted to correct those and give my perspective and understanding. This is not meant to cause more of a rift, but just provide some facts based on mine and others experience. I am not looking for a fight, aggressive or hurtful comments/statements will be removed from the post.
This program is not ideal, but it gets us back in to the hospital enabling us to be with our clients, allowing us to give the support that we were hired to provide. Hopefully data can be gathered, further proving the important and pivotal role doulas provide. It is impossible to have a voice and make change if we are not allowed in the door.
1. A as of July 13, 2020, doulas that have completed the vendor credentialing program through GHX (Vendormate) are allowed to support their clients in person as an essential team member. They are not considered visitors and do not count in the one support person requirement for birthing parents. Clients do not need to choose between their partner and their Doula.
2. We are not employed by Novant, are not restricted or limited in the ways we can support clients. Attorneys reviewed the policy and we are under no obligation to advocate Novant policies over our client. Our contract with the client is what is upheld. Our loyalty and duty is to the clients that have retained our services. Our ability to be a professional and capable doula has not been hampered. We still provide evidence based care and information while staying within the scope of our practice. The Client is our number one priority that has in no way changed.
3. At the beginning of Covid-19, hospitals around the country restricted the amount of people at birthing parent’s bedsides. To help ensure and enhance the safety measures, which are more important than ever before with COVID-19 in the communities, Novant Health asked all vendors, agents, contractors and those who perform professional support services within its facilities to adhere to its long-standing verification policy.
As such, the Women’s Health Institute implemented the same verification program for doulas. This program does not protect from Covid-19, but ensures that doulas have the most up to date hospital policies. This aids in the continued health and safety of patients and team members, and it will allow those patients who have secured the emotional support services of doulas increased access to that important support throughout their labor and birth experience. Novant Health has said that they respect the professional and compassionate support doulas provide to women across all the communities during the prenatal, birth, and postpartum periods, and they are formally recognizing doulas as valuable members of the patient’s chosen emotional support team.
Doulas who go through the program have access to areas of the hospital that they did not have access to before. We are able to stay with our clients in triage, have access to nutrition room and can support our clients in recovery. Once visitor restrictions have lifted, doulas that have chosen to not be credentialed vendors are allowed back as visitors, but they will not have this new access.
4. We did have to pay a onetime fee to GHX in order to be verified and credentialed. That money does not go to Novant or practices affiliated with the organization.
5. No doula that is going through this program has raised their prices over this vendor expense. Several have added special Covid-19 pricing to help out those in the community who are struggling financially at this time. Sliding scale rates have also been added to many of our doula practices. We want to provide professional care for anyone interested in retaining the services of a doula. Novant does not charge patients extra if they hire a doula.
6. We were never asked any questions by GHX or Novant about our race. Everyone has the freedom to choose to participate regardless of race, age, gender, religious preference and certification. Part of the credentialing was taking a non-Novant employee anti-discrimination online course, provided by Novant. There has been offers in the community by individuals and business to award scholarships to BIPOC Doulas who may need aid in paying the vendor fee. There are currently doulas of color going through the Vendormate program.
7. As part of the verification process, doulas were asked to provide one of the following: proof of independent certification or doula training. Doulas without proof of certification can instead provide three letters of recommendation from nurses, midwives, or physicians. There was no limitations placed on what companies your certification had to be from.
8. We were asked to provide proof of vaccination or a letter officially declining vaccination for personal reasons. This information was provided to GHX, not Novant.
9. We were asked to have Professional Liability Insurance, as well as having a business tax ID number. This information was provided to GHX, not Novant.
10. We were asked to run a federal background check and a sex offender registry background check. The results of these was not provided to any company, but proof of the having run it was provided to GHX, not Novant.
11. We were asked to take a drug test and provide proof of taking the test to GHX, not Novant. Results are to be retained by our individual business.
12. We were required to take an online OSHA course on Blood Borne Pathogens and provide certificate of completion. There are many websites that provide acceptable OSHA course, some of which are free.
13. We were required to read and accept Novant’s Tobacco policy.
14. We were required to read and acknowledge the worker confidentiality agreement.
I appreciate all that took the time to read this and am happy to answer any questions, if I am able. Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is not the ideal situation, but I am thrilled to be with my clients again in the hospital. I am encouraged by the new access we have been granted by going through GHX and am grateful that I am now recognized as an essential member of my client’s birth team.