KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Blue Springs mother and family said they didn't get to see their newborn daughter for days while they waited for COVID-19 test results.
Veronica Batton said she spent four days separated from her daughter, Theo, in the hospital.
"Although this has been completely devastating, and a heartbreaking experience, I'm so excited for this moment,” Batton said in a video she recorded from her hospital room shortly before reuniting with her daughter Monday, “and I just really hope that they can find solutions to these problems in the future.”
Her husband Michael said they finally got the results minutes after they got home. Veronica's test, they said, came back negative.
"We are great now that we're all together," he said.
Veronica Batton said it took a full week to get her test results, and it all started when she emailed her doctor, worried about her cough.
"She agreed that it would be better safe than sorry to test for it," said Batton of her doctor.
She still didn't have the test results back when she delivered her baby on Friday at St. Luke's East Hospital in Lee's Summit.
"I saw her and felt her on my chest for like maybe three to five seconds," Veronica Batton said. "And they took her over to get cleaned up and everything, and after that, I didn't see her out of the room and I didn't see her again until yesterday evening."
Dr. Ginny Boos, director of infection prevention for St. Luke's Health System, said that is a “big problem” that causes frustration on “multiple levels.” Boos said St. Luke's uses a third-party lab to process a growing number of tests.
"The tests then still have to catch a plane and then make it to North Carolina and then be processed, so there’s a lot of time that comes into that,” Boos said, “and that’s just really what the options were.”
Just within the past week, Boos said, they now have access to a test with a quicker turnaround time. Batton was retested over the weekend with the faster test but said her results came from her first test.
"We are very sensitive to new moms and babies," Boos said. "We have to sometimes make tough decisions that as a result of some of the other delays in the system that we don't have control over."
When it comes to caring for new mothers and babies with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or potential COVID-19 symptoms, Boos said they follow CDC recommendations and guidelines to protect the newborn and other patients. She also said that if a mother with possible symptoms delivered a full-term baby with no underlying health issues or concerns, both would be tested and be in isolation but would be able to be in isolation together.
"With a mom and NICU baby, mom and baby have to be kept in separate isolation because the baby's health is so fragile, as is the health of all the other babies in the NICU environment," Boos said in an email from St. Luke's.
Veronica Batton said COVID-19 is a serious illness and she understands why the hospital is taking the measures that it is. But she said constantly changing timelines for test results took a toll.
"The last day was really, really hard,” she said. “That was the day I felt like I lost all hope."
And she wants to know how tests are prioritized – something Boos doesn't know either.
Veronica Batton and her husband are both grateful to the nurses and doctors who cared for the family.
"The nurses were great,” Veronica Batton said. “They were so kind, they took pictures on their phone and brought it to me. They even used my husband's phone and took it up there so we could FaceTime with her.”
Veronica, Michael, and their five-year-old son now are home with their newborn daughter. Veronica Batton is holding her close and said she hasn't put her down much.
"It feels amazing, like all the stress is gone,” Veronica Batton said. “I don't have to wear a mask. I don't have to wear gloves."
But she hates the thought of any other family going through something like this.
"I was just imagining holding her on one side and my son on the other and it was like the only thing that just kept me going," she said sitting on her couch holding both children. "So this is like a dream come true."
Boos said anyone expecting who is worried about symptoms they are experiencing should contact their doctor and place of delivery to find out what to expect.