Social Distancing & the Village

by Kristina Mulligan

This world is in scary times as we deal with a global pandemic. COVID-19 is causing fear in many and panic in others. In some way, however, we all feel the anxiety – and possibly the soreness of dry hands. Social distancing and isolation has become the way of life for many, and those that are a bit more “adventurous” are still navigating cancelled events (on their part or society’s) and having to go to work in a world that’s partially shut down. It’s uncharted territory for so many but, as a preemie parent, a lot of these precautions are a part of a normal season. 

I have often been told that the voluntary quarantine that we endure each year since Flynn’s birth is “unnecessary.” I’ve heard unkind words about my “helicopter parenting” and “over-reacting,” that I’m “living in fear” and that “kids need exposure to germs to thrive.” When I wash my hands countless times a day, keep hand sanitizer all over the place, and sanitize my phone, I’ve been called “paranoid” and a “germaphobe.” I can take all that, though, it doesn’t hurt more than it would to have my son’s fragile health compromised. I stand by our decision to self-isolate every year, not because I’m terrified of another hospital stay (though that does play a role) or that I believe the world is only full of sickness and germs. I believe in it for the same reason that your family is doing it due to COVID-19: you want to protect your family. The feelings that you’re having in this moment – fear, uncertainty, confusion, panic – I am no stranger to them.

I say this not with the tone of “I TOLD YOU SO,” instead with one of, “I’ve been here. We’ll get through this.” I’m not insinuating the plight of one family is equal to a global crisis, but up until this point, we have a track record of being okay and standing together, even through all the fear. The same that you are feeling right now. In a time like this, social distancing is important not only for your sake, but for the health of those around you – your neighbors, your friends, the medical community. It’s not a time to panic, hoard, and think only about yourself. Remember that the community as a whole and sticking together (from afar) is equally important as your individual well-being. It takes a village to tackle big things like COVID-19. Be a part of the village, not a part of the problem.

Kristina Mulligan is mom to preemie Flynn and a Parent Preemie Mentor for Graham’s Foundation. She has a blog she posts regularly, “Once In A Mulligan”.

NICU Babies in the Era of COVID-19

by DeeAnna Serna, RCP, RRT-NPS, AE-C

Hello there, let me tell you a little about me before I get into all the details of this topic.

My name is D’Anna I am a respiratory therapist with about 20+ years of experience, I’ve been a NICU therapist since 2000.  I now work in the outpatient setting as an Asthma educator and Cystic Fibrosis specialist.

So … Fortunately I know about respiratory diseases, this virus is novel thus the N in 2019-nCoVand we are learning on the daily.  

What we do know.

The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.* source

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath  

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

While that may go without saying… here is a link with information on prevention and cleaning CDC-Covid-19 prevention

I state this information for background.  

Now what does this mean for our babies in the NICU?  

The short answer is that there is not enough information out there, because we have (fortunately) have not gotten report of an exposure of Covid-19 in a NICU.

As this is an emerging virus most of the information is based on effects on pregnancy and newborns (term gestation).  

There is a small amount of data regarding delivery of infants to Covid-19+ mothers and the outcomes following delivery.  Covid-19 pregnant women-and-impact-newborns

 What we as a team can do (family & medical) is prevention.

Strict visitation policies, effective hand washing and cleaning of equipment.

Staying home if you feel ill and clean handling of breast milk if one does have symptoms.

While this may seem like repetition … it is because we all need daily reminders.  

I am grateful that I have heard no reports of this organism in a NICU and we must all work together to keep it this way. When more information becomes available I will be happy to update.

So I close saying … stay strong and vigilant. These little ones are being born into a very different world.  You as always make the difference and we as your NICU team are here to help and support you in any way we can.

Be well and take care of each other …

DeeAnna Serna is a Respiratory Therapist in Southern California. She has worked in the NICU and is currently the Lead Respiratory Therapist for the Pediatric Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine Clinic as well as the Adult & Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Clinics.

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