Trinidad and Tobago, like the rest of the world, is learning to deal with the COVID19 Pandemic. Your health is our number one priority. Here in the clinic we are keeping up to date with the latest national and international advice on all aspects of COVID19. We are here to work with you in the best & safest way towards your dream of having a healthy baby.
SARS-CoronaVirus-2 (the virus causing the illness COVID19) is spread by
- Respiratory droplets from person to person – when a person talks, sneezes or coughs.
- Surface spread. The virus survives on objects and surfaces for 5-7 days, e.g. sole of shoes, computer mouse, handrails, doorknobs, glasses, medical equipment etc. Infection occurs when hands contaminated with the virus touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Fecal-oral spread. The virus has been found in feces but this route of spread is thought to be infrequent.
COVID19 is avoided by
- Practicing social distancing – remaining 6 feet away from other people to avoid respiratory spread
- Good hygiene techniques (hand washing etc.)
- Wearing face masks when not at home – which may reduce some respiratory infections but also is likely to prevent an asymptomatic individual infecting others via respiratory and surface spread
- All three methods of prevention must be practiced in the clinic
A third of people with a current COVID19 infection have no symptoms. This is why it is so important for you to wear a mask and wash your hands. It protects you form getting COVID19. It also stops you from spreading it to other people without knowing it.
Trinidad and Tobago IVF and Fertility Centre closed to fertility treatments for non-emergency cases on March 17th 2020. We opened again for full patient testing and treatments on Monday May 18th 2020, as case numbers showed low population spread along with a stable healthcare system coping well with the demand for medical treatment. We will close again to treatments should it be required.
Knowing that a COVID19 vaccine may not be available until 2021, we have been reviewing international guidance for best practice in providing safe fertility testing and treatments for both staff and patients. Before you begin your treatment you need to think through the situation now and in the near future. You need to decide what risks you are willing to take. You need to let us know if now is the right time for you to get pregnant. You have other options. You can choose to wait to a time when the COVID19 pandemic is gone. You can choose to freeze eggs/embryos now and try for a pregnancy when the COVID19 pandemic is gone.
Should you start treatment? Before you begin your treatment you need to think through the situation now and in the near future. You need to decide what risks you are willing to take. Is now the right time for you to get pregnant? You have other options. You can choose to wait to a time when the COVID19 pandemic is gone. You can choose to freeze eggs/embryos now and try for a pregnancy when the COVID19 pandemic is gone.
To help us keep you and all our staff safe from COVID19, you will notice changes in the clinic.
- All clinic consultations continue remotely via Telehealth
- All sperm testing continues with sample drop-off only (no in-clinic production)
- All patients entering the clinic must have a confirmed appointment
- All patients can only attend the clinic alone (sorry no partners allowed entry)
- High level clinic cleaning & disinfection continues
- All clinic staff will be wearing masks and the correct PPE for all procedures
- All patients entering the clinic must wear a cloth mask & undergo pre-screening
- No patient with COVID19 symptoms can enter the clinic or continue with fertility treatment
If you choose to start treatment you may have your treatment cancelled at any time. You cannot enter the clinic if you or someone you live with gets COVID19 or COVID19 symptoms. We will be asking you regular questions and taking your temperature before you enter the clinic. Any fever or symptoms means you are cancelled, no matter where you are in your treatment cycle. Treatments will also be cancelled if COVID19 cases increase and the lockdown is re-introduced by the government.
Am I entitled to a full refund if my treatment is cancelled? No, sorry. You start treatment at your own risk. If your treatment is cancelled you have lost the money for everything you have used up to that point. The normal refund process applies for items that you have not used, but no other financial compensation is available.
I want to start treatment, what is the next step? Contact the clinic and we will let you know what to do. Everyone must have a COVID19 Telehealth consult with a clinic doctor before treatment can start. The staff will also let you know outstanding tests and forms that are required to get started. Please remember you cannot walk in to clinic like before. Everything needs an appointment in advance, even having a blood test or dropping off a form. Please use the patient portal or telephone to contact us for instructions.
What can I expect during my treatment? A lot will be different. The COVID19 pandemic has changed everything. The cleaning required after you leave a clinic room means that all scans, blood tests and procedures will take three times as long. Morning treatment scans will be by appointment and not a walk-in service between 7 and 9am. No information will be given during the scan to shorten your time in the clinic. All information on your next steps will be given to you by a phone call in the afternoon, after the doctor has reviewed your scan and blood results.
You will notice the waiting room is empty. You will need to wait in your car and we will call you when we are ready for you in clinic. You will also have to attend alone for everything. Your partner can join you via phone or video link. The day before any appointment we need to speak with you and confirm your answers to our screening questions. If we cannot get hold of you, your appointment will be delayed for 24 hours. If you turn up late to your appointment or do not have a mask, your appointment will be rebooked for 24 hours later.
How do I know that your clinic is safe? That is our top concern, too. Your health and safety (along with our staff’s) is of utmost importance. We are screening our entire staff for signs of COVID-19 every day and are also screening all patients that enter the clinic. Upon arrival for your appointment, we will ask about your contact with COVID19 and any symptoms you may be experiencing. We will take your temperature, ask you to wear a mask at all times in the clinic and wash your hands. We are cleaning & disinfecting clinic areas where every patient has been before another patients enters. This takes a lot of time and is the reason for the new appointment times for everything.
Is it safe to be pregnant if I catch COVID19? From the limited data so far on COVID19 in pregnant women and from previous data from the similar virus illnesses (SARS & MERS), it seems that COVID19 is not a high risk for you or your baby if you become pregnant and catch COVID19. The current medical advice about COVID19 and pregnancy based on the information we have at the moment is;
- Pregnant women (as compared to non-pregnant women) do not seem to be
- at higher risk of contracting COVID19
- at higher risk of severe COVID19 disease or death
- showing different symptoms to the usual COVID 19 symptoms
- With the limited data at present, we believe COVID19
- Probably does not cross the placenta & infect your baby
- Probably does not cause severe problems for your baby in the last 3 months before birth
- May increase your chance of delivering your baby early (pre-term birth)
- We are UNABLE to tell you whether
- COVID19 infection during your pregnancy might cause miscarriage
- COVID19 infection in the first 6 months of a pregnancy is safe for your baby
What happens if I develop COVID19 during my treatment cycle? Unfortunately if you develop COVID19 your cycle will be cancelled and you cannot enter our clinic. Also, if your partner or anyone you live with develops COVID19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID19 during your treatment, your cycle will be cancelled. You will need to be in quarantine for 2 weeks and you cannot enter the clinic.
How do I stay safe from COVID19? You & those you live with should do everything you can to avoid COVID19 if you are having treatment or are pregnant.
To stay as safe as possible;
- Stay at home as much as you can and work from home whenever it is possible
- Avoid sick people, crowds of people and places where a lot of people pass through
- Do not touch you face, nose or mouth
- Wash your hands every 2-3 hours with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Clean and disinfect your work and home area regularly. Disinfectant wipes and dilute bleach work well.
- Avoid all non-essential travel
- Practice social distancing, stay 6ft away from everyone that you do not live with
Do you offer testing for COVD19? We cannot offer accurate testing for COVID19. Blood testing for COVID19 antibodies is not accurate and will miss many cases of infection but could also give you a false positive and cancel your treatment unnecessarily.
How do I decide whether to go ahead with my fertility treatment at the moment? This is a difficult decision, but we are here to help you get all the facts and make your choices.
It helps to write out a list of the pros i.e. the good things about going ahead with treatment for you now and the cons i.e. the bad things about going ahead with treatment for you now and use this list to help you make a decision.
These are some examples that you might consider when thinking about your pros and cons;
Cons to going ahead with fertility treatment now
1. Although pregnancy looks safe for me and the baby, no-one really knows yet. Many risks to the baby are unknown.
2. I will have a higher chance of having my baby born early.
3. I could lose money I have spent on treatment if I get cancelled due to me or my partner having COVID19 during treatment
4. Despite being good now, the healthcare system could be overwhelmed in 4 months due to a rise in COVID19 cases and I might not get the medical care I need.
5. If I develop diabetes or high blood pressure in pregnancy I will face risks from COVID19
Pros to going ahead with fertility treatment now
1. Things look safe in the country with few COVID19 cases at the moment. There may be no new cases and the healthcare system should be fine to look after me in pregnancy
2. The situation may not get better for several years
3. I want to have a better chance of pregnancy by having treatment now and use my eggs before I am too old
Please remember you are not alone. We are here to help you. Please call us to talk through your options.