Mother of NICU baby heartbroken no family members can visit infant

Virginia News

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Crist family welcomed baby Fallon into the world this past Friday at 8:07 a.m.

She came two weeks early, and while that is considered full term, the infant had some struggles. Her heart rate was low, she had trouble controlling her body temperature and she wasn’t retaining weight. Because of this, Chesapeake Regional doctors placed her in the NICU.

Fallon’s mother Stephanie was discharged on Sunday and went home to visit their other children, one of whom was complaining of a headache and not feeling well. An at-home COVID test came back positive.

Following NICU policies, Stephanie and her husband couldn’t go back to visit their new baby for 10 days.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Stephanie. “I get it, because I don’t want to give this to my baby and I don’t want to give it somebody else’s baby, but it’s so hard. It’s so hard not to be able to have her and be near her.”

Stephanie said it’s especially hard because those first days of life are so important for a mother and child.

“‘My biggest fear right now is that by the time I get to her, she’s not going to know me. She’s not going to remember me because it’s been so long. And I know it’s only been days, but those days have literally felt like weeks and months,” she said.

While heartbroken, Stephanie completely understands not being able to visit herself. What she doesn’t understand is why other family members, ones who haven’t been exposed to COVID, can’t visit either. Stephanie says the NICU rules at Chesapeake Regional only allow mothers and fathers as visitors.

Officials with Chesapeake Regional Healthcare sent us a copy of their NICU policies which read:

“If parents are quarantined at home and unable to visit their newborn, they may call the Special Care Nursery anytime during the day or night to arrange a video visit and to talk with our nurses about baby’s progress. 

“Our Visitor Policy states that in the Special Care Nursery, only the parent/caregiver with a wristband may visit the baby. This policy is in place to protect our vulnerable newborns and minimize their risk of exposure to outside illness.

“If a parent has any concern about our policy, they may contact Administration directly at 757-312-6171.”

The Crist family would like the hospital to consider special circumstances and allow family members of NICU infants to visit them if their mother and/or father can’t because of COVID.

That way, a child doesn’t spend their first 10 days of life surrounded by strangers.

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