Hospital restrictions mean tough decisions for NICU parents: ‘It was definitely a kick to the gut’


GREENSBORO, N.C. (FOX 8 WGHP) — A new round of COVID-19 visitor restrictions at Cone Health will only allow one parent to visit child patients.

While his wife is inside, Gerrick Hilliard won’t be able to see his newborn daughter in the NICU at the Cone Health Women’s & Children’s Center at Moses Cone Hospital.

“We just want to see our child, and just having one of us see our child is really tough,” he said. “It was definitely a kick to the gut“

Hilliard’s wife didn’t plan on delivering the couple’s first baby in Greensboro. They were on their way home to Virginia from Charlotte when she began experiencing complications. Hilliard’s wife delivered their baby Giana on March 23.

“Instant love for Giana, and it was just a moment, it was a life-changing moment for me,” he said.

After a week of bonding, he said the separation isn’t easy.

“I’m kind of frustrated in terms of the policy, I understand why they were doing it, but at the same time if we were already in the hospital why do we now need to be booted out?” he said.

Sue Pedaline, the center’s chief nursing officer, said Wednesday that the restrictions are necessary to keep patients healthy.

She explained that staff are working with families to allow parents to switch visits when possible.

“As long as they’re healthy and asymptomatic, we will continue to support them taking turns being that parent that’s here as long as we can do that,” she said. “Some hospitals in our country have reduced to zero visitors, which we absolutely do not want to get to, and so the step we took this week was reducing from two parents to one”

“I try not to take it personally, because at the end of the day we’re trying to save lives and again this is a pandemic,” Hilliard said.

The couple says technology is keeping them all close until they can be reunited.

“For me, I just focus on the pictures of Giana, and seeing her face and her little expressions,” Hilliard said. “She’s so much like her mother already, I try to think about what really matters at the end of the day.”

The new restrictions allow women giving birth one visitor for their entire visit, patients 18 or older cannot have visitors at all. According to the hospital policy, the only exception is made for patients who only have several hours left to live.

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