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Teamwork allows mom to safely visit her baby

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
By Morag MacLachlan
Eric Benner, MD, PhD

When visitor restrictions caused a mother of twin babies to face an impossible decision, the team from Duke University Hospital's Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) came up with a safe solution.

The babies were born at 28 weeks and received care in the ICN. One was discharged home while the other remained on the unit. When the mother and healthy baby came to visit one recent Sunday, they were stopped. Visitor restrictions were in place allowing for only one adult visitor over the age of 12.

“I empathized with her," said neonatologist Eric Benner, MD, PhD. “I have twins who were born at 28-weeks. They're 15-years-old now, but I could relate to what she was going through. She just wanted to see her baby. And she didn't have anyone she could leave her other baby with that day."

The ICN team sprang into action. Nurse manager Sarah Haithcock, MSN, RN, contacted the operations administrator and a special exception was made to allow the mother and baby inside to the ICN waiting room. Benner gave the mom an update on the hospitalized twin and then offered to watch the other twin while she went inside the ICN for a visit.

ICN nurse Jen Kramer BSN, RN, CCRN, was moved by Benner's willingness to help. “This act of selflessness displayed by Dr. Benner vividly demonstrates Duke's mission, vision and values," she said.

Benner and the baby relaxed for a little over an hour in the care-by-parent room, away from the ICN waiting room and unit.

“She slept a little, ate from her bottle and played with her toy. She wasn't fussy at all," Benner said. “It was great therapy for me. And it was the right thing to do."​​