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Families with NICU babies face extra stress, isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Hospitals lay out current protocol changes for NICU visitors

SAN ANTONIO – Families with babies in neonatal intensive care unit already know the stress of isolation, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder for parents of preemies .

“Miss Alize!” Jenna Bollig said laughing, watching her daughter yawn.

Baby Alize has a right to be sleepy. She’s been fighting hard since the day she was born, Feb. 9 at 24 weeks weighing just 1 pound 9 ounces.

“You’re already dealing with the stress of the NICU life, then all of a sudden you have a pandemic happen, and it’s just a double whammy” Bollig said.

She said the pandemic hit about a month into Alize’s 97-day stay in the Baptist Hospital NICU.

At the time, only one caregiver at a time was allowed to visit the NICU.

Now, Baptist is allowing two identified and consistent caregivers to visit together, as does Methodist.

However, University and Christi’s hospitals are still only allowing one parent/caregiver to visit the NICU at a time.

All hospitals KSAT contacted said visitors are screened before entering and masks are worn at all times.

Some hospitals like University are using extra technology to help enhance communication with NICU babies during the pandemic. They’ve expanded their Angel Eye Program that allows parents to see their babies remotely through a camera.

“It’s chaotic and crazy but her fight and her strength makes you feel like... ‘You can do it,’” Bollig said.

During NICU Awareness Month, Bollig wants parents going through it right now to know, you can do this.

“Have your faith in these doctors, have your faith in these nurses,” she said.

Bollig is a medical assistant at an OBGYN office and calls her colleagues heroes who continue to risk their health to save the tiniest of lives.

Alize is now thriving.

“She was in the 10 to 20 percentile when she was born and now all the way up to the 80 percentile,” Bollig said.

The little fighter will continue to offer her hope and inspiration during such an uncertain time.


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