At the end of the white and blue corridor of the birth area, a little Azethah, just out of her mother’s womb, is testing her vocal cords. White bonnet on her head, she waves her feet and arms in her incubator.
“Making women give birth this summer, we will do it. The problem is the aftermath”, explains to AFP Dr. Thierry Harvey, head of the maternity department, who is worried “of closures, for lack of staff, hospital beds”, necessary for the care of women and their babies.
This year, the holidays of caregivers, well deserved after these Covid years, “are added” to a major problem: the shortage of midwives from which the hospital has suffered for “a little over a year”, explains Hélène Ostermann, senior midwife in the maternity-fertility unit, which has 12 midwifery vacancies (out of 36). Never seen.
Many midwives are leaving the Paris region, even the hospital, denouncing the lack of attractiveness of the profession, insufficient staff and working conditions that do not allow them to meet the needs of women.
“The priority place is the birth rooms. We put all the staff we can there,” explains Thierry Harvey. But in order to be able to “armor” this floor, the midwives no longer provide preparation for birth since January and will not carry out any follow-up consultations during the summer.
“It is not insignificant not to follow up, not to give preventive information, not to ensure early prenatal maintenance, which remains a highlight, in particular to detect psycho-social vulnerabilities” before the childbirth, recalls Hélène Ostermann.
– “we know how to do” –
In addition to these internal reorganizations, the maternity ward uses temporary workers, liberal midwives who come to work on a few shifts, and temporary workers. But even with all this, “it’s barely”, notes the health executive who hopes that the seventh wave of Covid will not lead to sick leave.
In the “Bora Bora” room, a woman patient lying down, her big belly surrounded by a monitoring device. The device lets you hear the baby’s heartbeat.
Faced with tensions on the workforce during this summer period and the risk of closure of certain maternity wards, the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency (ARS) has ensured to expand the in-utero transfer unit, normally devoted to pathological pregnancies, transfers for lack of space. But Stéphanie Blugeon, midwife, fears “an influx of pregnant patients in the emergency room”.
“We will have to manage the dissatisfaction of the patients, the work overload, the emergency files, the women who have not had a follow-up … it will be the m …, but we know how to do it”, assures Head of Service. “We will see day by day and we will do what we can to help other maternity wards,” he adds.
Far from these disturbing perspectives, a baby lets out his first cries behind the door of the “Mahé” room. Her mother has just had her first childbirth, without an epidural as she wanted. A little further on, a woman cries out in pain. Her husband pops up to ask for help.
“To free up space in the hospital, we need relays in town”, judges Stéphanie Blugeon, midwife. A relay from both general practitioners, obstetrician-gynecologists and liberal midwives to ensure pregnancy monitoring but also to allow early discharge. But “will they be able to absorb everything?” Worries Hélène Ostermann.
“In the end, it’s always the same, it’s the women who suffer,” laments Thierry Harvey.