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COVID-19 and virtual health in post-transplant care: Part 1 with Kate

As challenging as this time has been for so many, Kate feels fortunate to have been able to rely on virtual health visits to guide the health of herself, and her growing baby. 
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“I feel my care is still the same as in person. For me it has been more time efficient as I can do it from home and not need to commute and sit in a waiting room. I have had to go in person for recent obstetrician appointments, but again have felt safe. It is reassuring to hear our little one’s heartbeat, which you can’t do over the phone.”

Pregnant during a pandemic

Kate and her husband Brian wanted to have a child for some time but were delayed by a number of years due to Kate’s kidney health. Then, Kate needed to wait one year after her kidney transplant before her health team was confident they could make the medication changes needed so she could safely get pregnant. Now 35 weeks pregnant, Kate is grateful to have had a pretty normal pregnancy with just a few more appointments and blood tests.

When Kate got pregnant in fall 2019, she had no idea that her pregnancy would take place in the middle of a pandemic. As someone with a positive outlook, she has taken it in stride and is enjoying the process while being cautious with any interactions.

A few things are different than what she had anticipated. For example, Kate has to plan weekly updates to share on social media so her friends and family can feel involved. She’s had to do online baby shopping and pre-natal classes and had a virtual baby shower.

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“We now will be heading towards delivery and thankfully my wonderful husband can be there. The challenge will be when we get home as we know our family and friends are so eager to meet our little peanut. We will plan for social distancing meet and greets and know that cuddles will be possible in the future.”

Virtual care key to health care during the pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, virtual health has transformed patient care, with an increase of 90% in virtual health appointments since March. This is also the case for the majority of post-transplant care in BC. Kate’s post-transplant clinic check-ups have been virtual though she continues to go in for regular blood work. She has felt safe at the lab, and uses the “save my spot” option to avoid standing in line for long periods of time. After her bloodwork appointments, she has follow-ups with her nurse and a call or video with her nephrologist.

“Virtual” changes for patients and staff

The shift to virtual health during the pandemic has been a change for all teams involved in post-transplant care across BC. The heart transplant team at St. Paul’s Hospital, for example, note that the last few months have really opened their eyes to all the potential benefits of delivering patient care virtually, and have had a positive response from patients and clinicians.

“Virtual health has a significant positive impact for patients, saving their time and money. Although we all have a bit of a cramped neck from being on the phone all day, we are grateful there are ways we can still “see” our patients during this unprecedented time, making sure they are staying safe and connected.”

Their hope is to leverage what they’ve learned in the past two months to make virtual health a more permanent part of care delivery.

Kate feels fortunate to have this opportunity to grow her family, pandemic or not. She’s grateful for technology which allows her and her husband to work from home in their dining room, to practice yoga virtually and to socialize with friends and family online. She’s also thankful for her dog, who continues to insist on for family walks outside in nature.

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Kate is grateful for all the heroes who work in health care: “Thank you to all those who work in health care who adapted to a very major crisis in a very short time. I see some positive things coming out of this for the care of patients here in BC. I think this has allowed people to slow down, appreciate the small things in life and keep health top of mind.”

BC Transplant
Women's Health
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