Pregnant With Coronavirus: How a Hospital Maternity Ward Is Coping
The Brooklyn Hospital Center's maternity floor is a place of anxiety for staff and patients. But amid the fear, mothers with Covid-19 are experiencing moments of joy and gratitude.
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This is Precious Anderson. She was pregnant. About two months before her due date, she had severe Covid-19. Actually so severe that her baby had to be delivered by C-section to try to save both of their lives. In fact, she couldn’t actually visit her baby. “Here you go, Precious.” And then it was amazing because we got to watch her video chat with a nurse who was with her baby, and Precious Anderson got to see her baby, David. “Wonderful, right?” “He’s so handsome, Precious. He’s very handsome.” We actually went to visit him and he was moving around, he was stretching, pointing his toes like a little dancer. He was so, so cute. Actually he tested negative for Covid. At this hospital, seven of the pregnant women who tested positive for Covid have given birth, and their babies have generally done very well. None of them have been confirmed to have Covid. I’m Sheri Fink. I’m a correspondent at The New York Times. For the past several weeks, Victor Blue, a photographer, and I have been able to spend time at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. And for the story published this week, we spent time with pregnant mothers on maternity and in the intensive care unit. Dr. Erroll Byer is the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. And he said that this moment, which should be such a joyful moment in a family’s life, bringing new life into the world, that, in fact, now it’s anxiety provoking. “How you doing?” What struck me was people doing the typical things you would do on a maternity ward, but doing them with masks, with face shields, with gloves, with gowns. Many, many of the staff members on the maternity ward and in the neonatal I.C.U. are out sick. So there is a level of fear. Basharrie McKenzie was also on the intensive care unit. And she’s pregnant, and she got very sick with Covid. She was so afraid. And of course, it’s really hard because you’re alone. You can’t have any visitors. When I met her this Monday, she was so much improved. “My three-year-old daughter keeps me going.” And she was able to continue her pregnancy. “Your respirations are pretty OK. OK? Very good.” So, there are a lot of very sad stories with Covid-19 — people in the intensive care unit — many, many of them not making it. So it was amazing to see this young woman, who had been so, so sick, was able to pack up her bags and actually go home. And she’s one of the success stories. “You made it. You’re telling a great story, honey.” “We’re proud.” “You got to have heart, and you had it. So we’re very proud of you.” “Thank you for allowing us to take care of you.” “Thank you.” I spoke with the intensive care unit doctors, and they said when people like Ms. McKenzie get to leave the hospital, get to come off a ventilator, out of an intensive care unit, and recover enough to go home that it’s giving them the energy to keep going.