Expectant moms concerned about delivery during pope's visit

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Monday, August 10, 2015
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Hospitals are making contingency plans for baby deliveries in the last weekend of September.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pope Francis' historic visit will make getting around the city of Philadelphia difficult.

Traffic won't be allowed to enter Center City, part of Fairmount, and the eastern part of University City.

In addition, no cars will be allowed over the Ben Franklin Bridge from 10:00 p.m. Friday till mid-day Monday.

Expectant mothers due to deliver their babies during that time are nervously wondering what happens if they go into labor then - will they end up delivering in the midst of a traffic jam or be unable to get to a hospital?

Hospitals inside and outside the vast "traffic box" set up by event planners say relax - plans are being made.

Two-year-old Anthony Izanec is excited to welcome a new brother or sister. So are his parents, but his mother admits there are some logistical concerns.

"With this pregnancy, I am due during the pope's visit, so that has been somewhat interesting to navigate," says Nicole Izanec.

She and her husband live in Collingswood, New Jersey.

Her hospital is Pennsylvania Hospital.

In normal circumstances, it's a quick commute over the Ben Franklin Bridge.

But during the Papal visit, that's a no-go.

Dr. Deborah Driscoll, the Chair of the Obstetrics & Gynecology for Penn Medicine, says all patients, including Nicole, will have a specific contingency plan.

"We will be looking at everyone's individual OB history and where they live, making sure they are comfortable with their care plan," says Dr. Driscoll.

Other hospitals inside the traffic zone tell us similar plans are underway.

And those outside the 'traffic box,' such as Temple University Hospital and Einstein Medical Center, say they will be ready to do more deliveries.

Dr. Herbert Cushing, the Chief Medical Officer at Temple, tells Action News there will be more staff in the hospital and on call from Friday through Monday.

And the hospital is considering beefing up staff on Thursday night, as well.

Dr. Cushing says staff will also be ready for expectant moms who didn't get the pre-natal care at Temple.

But he says they deal with that every day, with babies who decide it's time to arrive, no matter how far mom is from her hospital.

Jefferson University Hospital says its Labor and Delivery Unit will be open and fully staffed; it is working with patients, the City of Philadelphia and JeffStat to ensure patients can arrive by ambulance.

For those patients that live at a distance and may not be able to get in to Jefferson, the hospital will work with them to consider alternatives.

"This process is evolving as it throughout the City of Philadelphia," says the hospital in a statement.

Drexel Medicine and Hahnemann University Hospital are in the midst of some of the major events for the Papal visit.

The hospital says. "During the Pope's visit, we are expecting high volumes of visitors and related traffic to the area."

While it will be open and fully staffed, "For those planning to deliver at Hahnemann, a letter detailing what our patients can anticipate during this weekend will be shared in the coming weeks."

Drexel and Hahnemann says it is also working with other area hospitals to make sure the care of maternity patients isn't interrupted.

For Nicole, she wants to be prepared.

Her nursery is ready, she's getting a copy of her medical records, and just in case, she booked a hotel room in the city.

"It's not ideal, but if that's what we need to do, that's what we need to do," she says.

Penn says it is finalizing plans to message women to get copy of their records just in case.

Nicole says if it is a boy, they may give him middle name Francis after the pope.

The Delaware Valley Healthcare Council, which includes the hospitals in this area, says they will be ready.

Planning has been underway for months and will continue through September.

For answers to your questions about preparedness, click here.