COVID protocols keep new moms away from their babies in the hospital

Kara Bennett tested positive for COVID-19 the day before she went into labor. Her twin daughters in intensive care, but she’s only seen them on video.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich – Preparing for twins, Casey and Kara Bennett have two cribs, two blankets and everything they need to welcome newborns into their home.

However, the little ones arrived early and are in the NICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Since giving birth last Thursday, Kara has not once held her babies.

“It doesn’t feel like having kids,” Kara said, “I missed those critical moments of bonding initially. I know how important that is.”

Two days before giving birth, she tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms. Due to hospital guidelines, she is unable to visit her babies in the NICU until a 10-day isolation period ends.

RELATED: Visitor restrictions have been tightened at Holland Hospital due to COVID-19

“In the operating room, apart, they were brought to me for a minute to see their faces and say hello,” Kara said, “and then they were taken to the NICU.” So it was about 5 seconds of being close, but I couldn’t actually touch her or anything.”

Casey, the father, can visit the babies in the NICU. He brought breast milk to the babies and chatted with Kara from home. Casey said he felt guilty being there without his wife.

“We know they need to be in the NICU,” Casey said, “but at the same time, they need to be with their mother.”

Kara is actually a nurse at Spectrum Health. Hospital protocol for staff who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to work after five days of isolation. In fact, Casey said because her employer didn’t know she went into labor early, she was told she could go back to work on Sunday.

“It’s just inhuman that the nurses can go back after five but the parents get separated for ten,” Casey said.

Spectrum Health sent this statement regarding their patient isolation protocols:

“At Spectrum Health, the health and safety of our patients, their families and our team members are of the utmost importance. The bond between mother, baby and family is very important and we do our best to ensure that all parents and families can connect with their children in these situations. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum Health has closely followed CDC guidelines while working to implement innovative and compassionate ways like video technology to help families stay connected. In doing so, we have made difficult decisions aimed at minimizing the risk of exposure to other vulnerable patients, families and team members. Our hearts go out to all of our patients, their families and community members who have been impacted by COVID-19.”

An end is in sight. On Friday, Kara’s isolation period ends and she can finally hold her children for the first time.

“It’s hard to tell what they look like or tell them apart,” Kara said, “I can see in Casey’s hands that they’re so tiny, but I haven’t seen that yet. Hold on tight and never let go.”

They said the children are fine in the intensive care unit. They needed respiratory support, but now only with feeders and breeders.

“We have the nurses saying they’re little firecrackers,” Kara said.

However, the couple said the difference in the isolation requirement was “unfathomable” and they hoped the same situation didn’t happen to other parents.

“We thank God every day that they’re here and they’re healthy and they’re breathing on their own and they’re improving,” Casey said, “with the hope and expectation that when they get their mother back, they’ll be able to improve faster.”

RELATED VIDEO: ‘It’s Yet More Opportunity for Us to Take Responsibility’: DeVos Children’s Hospital Reports Highest Count of COVID Patients Yet

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