Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not The Ideal Situation

My husband and I have been waiting for this to happen. We had been hoping we would not have to deal with it, but it looks as though we have no choice now.

What am I talking about? The almighty ban on children visiting family members in the hospital due to H1N1 contamination fears.

Up until this point, our hospital (one of the biggest in our very large city), had only limited visitors if they were showing actual signs of the flu. Today, we found out that ANY child under the age of 16, healthy or sick, will be banned from visiting hospital patients. This includes children whose mother has just given birth to their newest sibling.

While I completely understand the need to keep people who have the flu (or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms) away from very sick people, patients recovering from surgery, or new babies, I cannot see what the difference is between allowing a "well" 20-something person to visit me and a "well" 2 year old visit me.

Here are my problem with "blanket" hospital policies:
-the incubation period for any strain of flu is the same in an adult as it is in a child. So, while
there is a statistically slightly higher chance of a child carrying more flu bugs than an adult
does, logically-speaking, both have almost the same chance of appearing healthy while
being contagious.
-making any policy so widespread for such a large population of patients (who all have
different reasons for being hospitalized) and such a large population of visitors is bound to
cause more panic than it is to prevent the spread of germs. Just this week, WHO (the World
Health Organization) published their findings from a study on countries who instituted
extremely strict "preventative measures". What did they find? That NONE of these
countries were even slightly more successful than other countries (who implemented less
drastic measures) at preventing the spread of H1N1. It's spreading, people; that's what the
flu does.
-The people who enforce any hospital policy on a "patient level" (staff-to-patient relation-
ship), are almost never the people who drafted the policy or participated in any discussions
as to the reasons why such a policy was created and implemented. So, these staff members
just know that they are required to enforce the policy, but they usually have no idea as to
why they do or what it means or how to apply any commonsense measures to a policy.
So, when your Average Josephine (me!) begins to question a nurse, or even a doctor, as to
why this policy is in place, or to suggest that it may not apply to every (or even most!) person,
Josephine is met with answers that have been memorized from a hospital "script" co-written
by the Legal Department and The Nameless Board. If Josephine actually goes even further
and makes suggestions as to how the policy could be improved so that it still accomplishes
what the hospital wants and it eases things for patients and their families, she is either
ignored altogether or written off as a "kook".
-Do not even get me started on the fact that "statistically" the most dangerous germs are
running rampant all over the same hospital, and pose a much greater risk to my new baby
does her healthy 9-year-old sister.

What all of this means for my family is that my husband and I will go into the hospital on an early Thursday morning, have our precious daughter delivered by c-section, and, with God's mercy, go home on Saturday (at the earliest). The entire time we are at the hospital, our other children (ages 14, 11, 9, 6, 2) will not see their mother or meet their new sister. Not because they are sick, but because they are lumped into a group which has a slightly higher chance of possibly carrying more germs than does a 30-something friend of mine who is allowed to visit.

Now, try explaining this all to a 2-year-old boy who has never been away from his parents for a night, and does not comprehend what this "new baby" thing is all about. I know from a lot of personal experience that a toddler adjusting to a new sibling is difficult enough in the best circumstances, but adding to that child's stress by not allowing him to see his mother or bond with this new "stranger" who just usurped his position as The Baby is just plain cruel.

In all the panic over flu germs and vaccinations and health care, not ONE person in "authority" has stopped to use any common sense when addressing these very valid concerns. And, if one more person in health care tells me that it's in the best interest of my baby, I am going to flip! I am my baby's mother; my husband and I are the people most concerned with her well-being because we love her! We take our vocations as parents extremely seriously and educate and inform ourselves (as we have done in this case) to the very best of our abilities in all areas that might possibly concern our children. After all, we have the most to lose, don't we? And, in one tragic instance, we have lost the most. We do not take our responsibilities lightly. Ever.

Our family's best hope, at this point, is to have a safe and healthy delivery for both Mom and Baby, followed by a very healthy and very, very short stay in the hospital, ending with an extremely joyful and positive reunion of the whole family at home. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers in ALL of these areas.

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