Just three days old – Diverge Media has received word that a newborn baby who was just three days old at the time, was given a Covid test without permission from the Mother or Father – all within the first two hours of being in the hospital. This is the story of Jack and Dianne (*names changed to remain anonymous*) and their newborn baby Elizabeth.
What started as a home birth in the comfort of the couple’s home quickly led to the hospital visit from hell. From the mothers stitches falling out in the hospital, to being told that the mother was unable to use the bathroom in her room as it was a shared bathroom (Covid protocol), to the families newborn baby being administered a Covid PCR test (nasal swab) without the parent’s permission – everything about this visit was questionable.
Why they were told to go to the hospital
The couple had decided to have a home birth using the midwife clinic in their area. Dianne, the mother of Elizabeth, told Diverge Media that the midwives had used 3 different sling scales on each of the 3 days to take the baby’s weight. In the first 3 days of Elizabeth’s life – her weight was taken each time in a different sling. This is a big no-no as if the slings are calibrated wrong, or calibrated differently, they can give different weights and give inaccurate results. Although perhaps antidotal, the mother recalls overhearing the midwives talking amongst themselves and one of the midwives asking if the sling was calibrated correctly – the other midwife responded “It should be fine.”
On the 3rd day, a student midwife showed up to check on Dianne and Elizabeth and told the couple that “she shouldn’t be there by herself, but might as well get started with the tests.” The student midwife took Elizabeth’s weight and told the couple that the baby’s weight was down roughly 14 percent. However, after the senior midwife re-took the baby’s weight, she told them Elizabeth’s weight was down 12 percent, not 14 percent. Once at the hospital, triage took the weight again and told them that their daughter was down only 10.2 percent.
On this note, I can recall when my wife gave birth with a midwife and the midwife told her that “10 percent is a bit of a concern” but wasn’t overly concerning if the baby was eating well. Our midwives instead opted for a follow-up visit within 24 hours to check the baby’s weight and overall health again to avoid a hospital visit during Covid.
Dianne’s midwives took the weight of the baby and checked over every inch of Elizabeth. All of the tests came back normal – no abnormalities, Elizabeth was healthy. The student midwife took a heart-rate test on the baby, but did so while Elizabeth was asleep. She didn’t put the sensor on Elizabeth’s foot properly and it recorded a heart-rate of 60 beats per minute.
The senior midwife took the heart rate again with her own equipment and it showed 100 beats per minute. After Elizabeth began to wake her heart rate rose to 107 beats per minute – and the baby’s heart rate never went below 97 at any time. She told Dianne that it “was good” but that “healthcare is free in Canada” and to go to the hospital just to make sure.
Once at hospital the baby’s heart rate was again tested by ECG, but the issue is that they calibrated the test for a 50-year-old and not a newborn baby! The test returned a result of 107 beats per minute.
The couple went to the hospital under the impression that this was all they were there for – a few simple tests to make sure Elizabeth was fine, and that it wouldn’t be a long visit. Once at the hospital, the couple had to fight for Jack just to be able to get in the door to stay with Dianne and their newborn baby Elizabeth – because of course, Covid protocol prohibits this.
After some passionate back and forth with the security, a tearful mother, and a dad who was adamant he stay – the security allowed Jack to stay with Dianne. Once settled in, the tests at triage were started.
The weight according to the triage nurse was only down 10.2% compared to the original test. This is also to be taken with a grain of salt as Dianne overheard the midwives saying the sling “should be fine” after one midwife said, “is it calibrated properly?” If the initial sling that took the baby’s weight wasn’t calibrated properly – every subsequent weighing would be inaccurate afterwards.
After getting through triage, a doctor came to visit their daughter. After less than 5 minutes, the doctor informed the couple that they were being admitted for 12 hours because it was “standard protocol” for babies who had lost more than 10% of their birth weight. They also started Elizabeth on antibiotics without evidence of infection.
Dianne and Jack had a different impression when they entered the hospital – they thought they were there for some routine tests and a checkup – why hadn’t the midwives told them this possibility? Regardless the couple wanted what was best for their daughter and continued to follow the advice they were given.
As Dianne was talking with the doctor about what may be”wrong” with their daughter and the possibility of being released before the 12 hours had passed – she looked over to see a nurse administering a Covid test to their newborn daughter Elizabeth. Not a saliva test, but a nasal swab! This infuriated Dianne as she had already told the nurse who performed the Covid test that she didn’t want Elizabeth to receive a test. She had told the nurse that if it was needed to instead test her – the mother who had just given birth to her.
We contacted Grand River Hospital (not the hospital the couple attended) and spoke with one of their media representatives named Cheryl and asked “are there any circumstances in which they would Covid swab a newborn child?” Cheryl told Diverge Media “yes, we would complete a swab of newborns of Covid positive mothers as per public health guidelines. This doesn’t add up in the case of Dianne as she had not been administered a test, and was not exhibiting any signs of illness – she was simply a tired new mother.
Although no abnormalities were reported in triage – after the Covid test, Dianne and Jack noticed that Elizabeth had trouble breathing and sounded congested. They’ve checked with the midwives and a family pediatrician who have said it’s not chest congestion and that perhaps it’s possible that the nasal swab that was administered is the cause – although this can’t be confirmed yet. To do a proper test that would diagnose the cause, they must meet with a specialist – but that will have to wait until Elizabeth is one year old.
Elizabeth breathing after birth. Audio has no background.
Elizabeth breathing today after Covid test. No background – just audio.
The stay in hospital
After receiving stitches from a student midwife, they began coming loose on the very 1st day and by the 3rd day, the day Dianne and Jack took Elizabeth to the hospital – they fell out. In her room, Dianne was told that she couldn’t use the bathroom in her room as it was connected to the post-operation room on the other side. Instead, Dianne would have to walk 10 minutes down the hallway to go to the bathroom.
This was extremely difficult for Dianne as she was in a lot of pain from the birth that had a few difficulties, and her stitches fell out while she was in the hospital! This meant that a woman who had a lot of pain associated with her labour was forced to walk 10 minutes away from her room to use the bathroom.
The doctor – After questioning the new doctor (day 2), whom Dianne described as the “worst doctor”, about why Elizabeth was being administered antibiotics and the reason they were being asked to stay – the doctor claimed their daughter was septic and had a litany of other issues in-spite of all the test showing no issues. The baby’s weight was also at 9 percent of birth weight and was no longer of concern. This was roughly 9 hours after her first weigh-in at the hospital – and her weight kept improving.
They were told again that they would have to stay. The timeline of their stay continued to be extended without evidence to support their prolonged stay.
The whole experience was trying for both Dianne and Jack. Dianne had gone through difficult labour that resulted in stitches that fell out in the hospital. She wasn’t being brought food and was told she would have to either get her own or bring in her own – something made difficult as only one parent was allowed in the room with the baby at a time.
This meant each time Dianne had to attend to her needs, she would have to leave the newborn baby alone – something that goes against the instincts of any mother. Instead of doing this, Dianne asked for a nurse to watch the baby as she went to meet her husband Jack for food etc.
Light in the darkness
The elderly woman who was in the post-op room next to Dianne came to the door of her room just to listen to her daughter cry. It was roughly 50 years earlier that she had given birth to her child and she just wanted to hear the baby cry. After talking with that sweet older woman for a bit, Dianne asked if she could use the bathroom in her room and the elderly woman obliged by unlocking the door from her post-op room.
The nurse with a heart of gold
2 nurses made a lasting impression – however, one more than the other. Dianne remembers breastfeeding and wearing the mask as instructed. It was already difficult enough for a newborn mother to breastfeed for the first time – but not being able to see your baby while doing it adds a whole other dimension of difficulty.
The nurse Dianne remembers fondly refused to enter her room with PPE on. Dianne remembers the nurse coming in and instructing Dianne to remove the mask and telling her “you take that off – you take it off or I take it off of you.” She then took Dianne’s baby, picked her up and wrapped her in a blanket and put her in bed and hugged Dianne. She told Dianne as she hugged her “We don’t do enough of this anymore and I feel like you’re scared, and I’m going to try and help you not be scared.” It was at this point we both shared tears on the phone.
Dianne told Diverge Media that she felt like her kid was just a number on a piece of paper – a paycheck for somebody. That one nurse made such an impact that both Dianne and I broke down on the phone as she recalled the story.
Enough is enough – time to leave Jack said
Dianne had been relaying the information back to her husband Jack as they were told they couldn’t be in hospital together. All the documentation pointed to Elizabeth being healthy. She couldn’t understand why she was still being instructed to keep her daughter in the hospital.
It was on the 3rd day of being told information that didn’t make sense that Dianne’s husband Jack decided it was time to leave after the attending doctor told the couple that they wanted to keep the baby for another 5 days in the hospital to administer antibiotics – for an infection that didn’t exist according to documentation. Dianne was nervous about what would happen if they left – would child services be called? To help calm Dianne’s fears, Jack called the local police unit and spoke with an officer about what was going on.
He asked, “what are my legal options here, and what potential legal backlash could I face?” The officer responded by saying “you’re the parent here, if you want to leave – leave.” After a conversation with the officer that spanned roughly 30 minutes, and with confirmation that they wouldn’t face repercussions for leaving – they began packing their stuff to leave.
After being told they couldn’t get discharge papers for three days – suddenly the documentation was given and they were released. Now that Dianne is home with Elizabeth, she is still experiencing some difficulty breathing through the nasal passage some 4 months later. She is being treated with a baby aspirator and a humidifier – and will have to wait till she’s a year old to follow up with a specialist.
A good husband feels he must be alongside his wife, to be there as support – in whatever way, shape or form that entails. Jack, as a good husband described the whole ordeal as leaving him feeling “helpless.” All he wanted to do was support her.
He told Diverge Media “my job as her hubby is to comfort her and be there for her and tell her things are going to be alright. To have someone stand in my way of doing that was infuriating. I’m naturally a protector by my character traits. If somebody needs help – I’m just that guy that’s there, I see a car accident and I’m the first guy out of the truck asking what do we have to do here? Especially even more so with my family”
Entering the hospital – “From the second I stepped into the waiting room and they told me I’d have to leave I got assertive and said, “if you want me out you’re going to have to call the cops.” Jack later apologized to the security guard for the situation and being crass and told the security guard “I just want to do right by my family.”
He didn’t want to leave his newborn baby’s side or his wife’s. He told Diverge about how he understood Covid protocols but that it didn’t make sense to be forced to leave when they both live in the same household. He told Diverge Media he stayed with Dianne until she got a bed in pediatrics.
Emotions – “There are not many situations where I have trouble pinpointing all the emotions I’m feeling – but that was definitely one of those where I was kind of all over the place.” He continued ” I’m fairly self-aware and I was able to say ok this is how I’m feeling and this is why. But it was like I cycled through emotions quite quickly. I went from very angry to very helpless, to angry again to sympathetic to angry again – it was just a rollercoaster of 3 or 4 main emotions and a couple of others thrown in for good measure.”
On Elizabeth’s breathing – “One thing I had pinpointed it down to is it was a sinus issue in her upper forehead. I was curious one day and I was listening to her chest and back for congestion. I then put my finger on her sinus on her forehead and it stopped being raspy breathing.” After talking with Dianne she pointed out that “it was weird because that’s the side they took the test on.”
Message to others – “Don’t expect that everyone is going to feel that your circumstance is a priority. I fully understand that my emergency may not be someone else’s emergency. Just stay calm and understand your circumstances are your own.” He also said “to try to take emotion out of it and think logically about the situation. If you’re getting information that’s not adding up to what it should be to question it. If they’re a good professional they’ll answer your questions and if not they’ll scurt the answers – you know be a politician about it.”
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