While elective surgeries have been put on pause as hospitals are forced to adapt their COVID-19 response daily -- some things can’t stop or change, like having a baby.
Not one, but two identical blessings were brought into Carolyn Hrenko-Porras’ world on April 2.
“I ended up delivering my babies at 34 weeks,” she said. Six weeks ahead of schedule -- and right around the time the U.S. was seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“It was the following week after our baby shower that things really started escalating very quickly with a lot of the coronavirus cases being detected in the U.S.,” Hrenko-Porras said.
Many states implemented stay at home orders. “In the third trimester things started changing, and changing very rapidly,” she said. Hrenko-Porras was admitted into the hospital March 21. Her babies were born April 2.
“Once I was inpatient, it was really interesting to see how people and hospital policy really changed through the course of more information coming out,” she said.
Up until the birth of her children, she was confined to the labor and delivery unit. She wasn’t allowed outside. Her husband did her maternity photo shoot in her hospital room.
“My husband was the only visitor that i was allowed to have,” Hrenko-Porras said. “Kind of close to when I delivered my baby as they were starting to get a few patients admitted who were pregnant with COVID-19.”
“There's no playbook for this epidemic, everyday we learn something new about the COVID virus. We learn something new about how to handle it,” Dr. Reginald Washington, chief medical officer at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, said. Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center is where Hrenko-Porras’ twins were born at. Dr. Washington said how they handle COVID-19 changes daily.
“If you come into the hospital, you will not be intermingled with anyone who we know has exposure to COVID-19 or is COVID-19 positive,” Dr. Washington said.
Hrenko-Porras’ twins still have some weeks to go in the hospital’s NICU, but she is still allowed to visit her babies every day, as long as he’s in good health and follows safety measures.
“The NICU is a closed environment. What I mean by that is we screen all visitors, we’ve always done this,” Dr. Washington said. This includes checking temperatures and wearing masks.
“My babies only see me from the eyes up and at that age babies really want to study people’s faces and expressions and it's just sad my babies hardly get to look at my face,” Hrenko-Porras said.
Dr. Washington said the hospital also separates COVID-19 positive from those who do not have the virus, even using separate entrances for both. The hospital follows guidelines and recommendations from the health system’s experts for best practices. “Science is not quite there yet, but that’s our goal. So hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll be able to provide those tests with very quick turn around time to ensure the safety of the patients as well as the people who provide their care,” Dr. Washington said.
“There’s a lot of things that really are difficult about what we’re going through right now but there’s a lot of silver linings,” Hrenko-Porras said. “I think it’s important just to really hold on and capture these moments with the people that are closest to us.”