Parents of sick baby speak out against Windsor, Ont., hospital’s policy limiting NICU visitors


Sheena Wallace-Wilson and Bruce Gagnon of Windsor, Ont., need their sick month-old daughter to be surrounded by family members at her bedside.

But the couple and different household of Olivia Gagnon say that is not taking place as a result of of a policy — which they argue is simply too restrictive — on the Windsor hospital the place she’s now being take care of following her beginning in London, Ont. 

Olivia’s household stated they had been instructed by Windsor Regional Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which cares for premature and significantly sick infants, that solely two important caregivers might be with the new child. The hospital says the rule is supposed to maintain all of the infants within the unit protected from exterior germs and diseases. 

Olivia was born Sept. 11 at London Health Sciences Centre, the place any two individuals had been capable of go to the new child, the household stated. It’s one thing they had been grateful for after studying Olivia has trisomy 18, also called Edward’s syndrome, a extreme genetic situation.

An further copy of chromosome 18 is behind the situation, which may trigger extreme developmental delays, beginning defects and well being issues that may contain virtually each organ system within the physique, based on an article from SickKids Hospital.

Most infants die earlier than or shortly after they’re born — about 50 per cent of newborns stay longer than six to 9 days. Of those that survive the primary 30 days, 36 per cent may be alive at one yr. 

Olivia’s household stated every day is an unknown. 

“She’s such an incredible lady to be combating this lengthy … most infants do not make it this far and she or he’s been doing an incredible job,” stated Gagnon. 

It’s troublesome to understand how lengthy Olivia will stay, however she’s not thought-about palliative right now. 

Despite this, household members say it is unclear once they’ll get to carry her residence. With so many unknowns, Wallace-Wilson and Gagnon need Olivia to be surrounded by her household as a lot as she will and meet her half-sister, nice grandparents, aunts and uncles. 

Despite their pleas, the couple stated, the hospital will not bend the principles. 

“It’s actually arduous,” stated Shelly Wilson, Olivia’s grandmother on her mom’s facet. 

“I stay blocks away, but I am unable to even see my granddaughter. We do not know that if she goes to sleep she’s not going to get up, we do not know if she’s going to be right here tomorrow or an hour from now — we simply do not know. It simply appears so inhumane and atrocious.” 

Olivia’s grandparents on her father’s facet, Debbie and Mike Chedore, stated on daily basis the new child is alive is a “reward.” 

“I simply do not get the distinction between right here and London,” Mike stated. 

“The individuals which are making these choices, I imply it is very straightforward to decide, take the protected route, however not contemplating the ramifications of everyone else concerned. There’s human beings concerned right here. We’re not speaking about automobiles; we’re speaking about human beings.” 

Olivia’s household say they wish to see the baby regardless of guidelines at Windsor Regional Hospital that restrict the quantity of visitors to the neonatal intensive-care unit. The household consists of grandmother Debbie Chedore, grandfather Mike Chedore, grandmother Shelly Wilson and step-grandfather Grant Passalacqua, left to proper. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Hospital says baby’s well being is prime precedence

Windsor Regional Hospital instructed CBC News its police are supposed to shield weak infants within the NICU and these guidelines do not differ a lot from what they had been pre-COVID. 

The hospital stated exemptions to the customer policy might be granted, however that often occurs if the baby is palliative or shouldn’t be doing in addition to anticipated. 

“When we’re granting exemptions to the customer policy, we have now to have a look at the danger related for these sufferers,” stated Karen Riddell, the hospital’s chief nursing government.

“So within the NICU, we have infants which are very excessive danger, in the event that they’re uncovered to infectious illness.” 

Woman with a mask.
Karen Riddell is Windsor Regional Hospital’s chief nursing government. She says the principles are in place to decrease the danger of infants within the NICU contracting different diseases. Exemptions are made on a case by case foundation. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Riddell stated it is now flu season, together with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 circulating. She stated if any infants contract these, it may be dangerous. 

As a consequence, she stated, the hospital wants to scale back the quantity of individuals coming into the NICU, particularly for the reason that unit is open, that means the infants haven’t got personal rooms. At this time, Riddell stated, they permit 19 individuals contained in the unit. 

Allowing extra visitors depends upon the baby’s state of affairs, however Riddell stated supporting the baby and getting the kid house is their prime precedence. 

Even with affected person advocate, household instructed ‘no’ 

While Wallace-Wilson and Gagnon instructed CBC News they perceive the dangers related to having sufferers come into the NICU, they stated the baby should not need to be on life-support for household to see her. 

“We don’t desire individuals to go up there and see her on her dying mattress,” stated Gagnon. 

“We don’t desire it to be her dying for household to see her, she ought to have the ability to see household whereas she’s alive,” stated Wallace-Wilson. 

Wallace-Wilson added that anybody within the unit can carry an sickness in and the hospital shouldn’t be actively testing them for COVID-19 earlier than they go into the NICU. 

Two people looking at each other in a field of sunflowers.
Bruce Gagnon, left, and Sheena Wallace-Wilson, proper, say they realized about Olivia’s prognosis after she was born. The couple says they’d really feel rather a lot higher having household stick with Olivia if they should step out and take a break. (Submitted by Shelly Wilson )

The household additionally spoke with a affected person advocate by way of Windsor Regional Hospital, however stated the reply was nonetheless no. 

“Not just for Olivia however for any baby who has a terminal sickness, that is ridiculous. There ought to be one thing that may occur, like they’ll have a room or one thing, or the baby might be moved to [a room] after which visitors can come and see her — I do not see how that’s such a giant deal,” stated Gagnon. 

Natalie Mehra, government director of the Ontario Health Coalition, which seems to enhance the health-care system, stated she’s “torn” in a state of affairs comparable to this, given the strains hospitals are dealing with. 

With COVID-19 outbreaks and low staffing, Mehra stated, it is cheap for a hospital to say no taking in additional visitors, nevertheless it additionally wants to make sure it is not being unnecessarily restrictive. 

“The worst factor that may occur is that hospitals use restrictive customer insurance policies for his or her ease, as a result of they do not wish to be bothered with the households,” stated Mehra. 

“Health care is about offering take care of the sufferers … the place the insurance policies have veered into being too restrictive, into dropping sight of compassion, we have now to push again.” 

And that is what Olivia’s household stated it’ll proceed to do, to make sure the new child is aware of she is liked. 

“Every second is so treasured,” stated grandmother Wilson. 

“She’s combating, this little lady is combating so arduous.” 


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