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Providing Care to Coronavirus Patients + Why Masking Up Is Essential

Mask Perspective

December 8, 2020

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we care for premature and critically ill newborns, so our view of COVID-19 is a little different than some of my MercyOne colleagues. We treat the infants of COVID-19 positive patients, and we see the ramifications of the virus — most of which people have not considered.

COVID-19 in the NICU

For example, if a COVID-19 positive pregnant mother goes into labor and delivers her baby, after briefly meeting her child, she must isolate from her newborn for ten days to prevent the baby from becoming infected. Those first few days are so critical for parent-baby bonding — but we must keep these babies healthy while they’re dealing with other challenges that have placed them in the NICU.

Even for those families who aren’t dealing with a COVID-positive case, it’s impacted who can visit babies in the NICU. Traditionally grandparents and siblings have been allowed to visit to meet the new little ones, but due to necessary visitor restrictions, they now must wait until the child is released.

Families are frustrated, and our providers are fatigued. As community spread increases, we are starting to see more of our colleagues being exposed or testing positive for the virus. This puts additional strain on the rest of the NICU team, which cares for about 40 babies at a time on average. I cannot emphasize enough the impact this is having on parents, babies and our health care teams.

You may not be directly impacted by a baby in a NICU, though if you are part of the spread of COVID-19 in our community, you could be preventing a new mom from bonding with her baby or a sibling from meeting his or her new baby brother or sister.

Here is my plea to you: Wear your mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Avoid crowds. Together, we can slow the spread of this virus in Iowa.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is working with its partners to encourage businesses and community to Mask Up DSM. You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates. See more on COVID-19 here.