Katerin Martinez was pregnant and just days away from her due date with her first child when her father tested positive for COVID-19. Katerin then got tested and found out she also had the virus.

Coronavirus Updates, Women's Health | 4 years ago

Three Generations Affected by COVID-19: One Family’s Story

Katerin Martinez was pregnant and just days away from her due date with her first child when her father tested positive for COVID-19. Katerin then got tested and found out she also had the virus. Since she was considered full term, her doctor recommended an induction. Meanwhile, her father was in the critical care unit at the same hospital where Katerin went to have her baby. Now, Katerin, her daughter, and her father are all healthy and back home.

For the majority of mothers-to-be, the journey of pregnancy and giving birth is filled with both nerves and excitement preparing for their newfound bundles of joy. But with COVID-19 affecting lives worldwide, it has thrown an added layer of nerves in those preparation plans. For one expecting mother, her world got turned upside down when she tested positive for COVID-19 just days before giving birth to her daughter.

The discovery of a positive test result

Katerin Martinez, an expectant mother, was going about her usual routines of visits with her OB/GYN and preparing for her baby’s imminent arrival, when she received some unexpected news.

After days of not feeling well, Katerin’s father, Victor Perez, was tested and diagnosed with COVID-19 after being away for work for a few weeks. Following his diagnosis, health officials provided instructions for the rest of the family – including Katerin, who lives in the same house as Victor – to immediately quarantine at home. Due to the severe symptoms, her father was facing, Victor’s family consulted his care team who told them that he would need to be transported to the hospital for care.

After monitoring her own symptoms, Katerin reported feeling a bit off herself. “I felt tired, but I wasn’t sure if it was a symptom of COVID-19 or was just from being pregnant,” says Katerin.

Just to be on the safe side, Katerin was advised to keep her regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment, where she was tested for COVID-19.

The next day, her results came back – and she was positive.

Heading to the hospital

Because she was considered full-term, Katerin’s obstetrician at Atrium Health McAlister OB/GYN Associates - Lincolnton, Jessica Rhodes, MD, recommended inducing Katerin to minimize any risks to mother and baby. Based off this discussion, Katerin made the decision to be induced.

“My doctor’s office called me in the morning, and I went to the hospital about an hour after I got that call,” Katerin explains. When she arrived, she found that the hospital staff at Atrium Health Lincoln had prepared a room where Katerin could labor and deliver in isolation, keeping her and her baby safe. “I went into the hospital at Atrium Health Lincoln that morning, was induced in the afternoon, and gave birth to my daughter that night,” says Katerin. Katerin was confident that she would be giving birth in the safest way possible.

Katerin’s fiancé, Carlos, was also able to be with her while the new parents welcomed their baby girl into the world, Using a COVID-Safe approach, Carlos was safely able to be there for support — and was even able to cut the umbilical cord.

Everyone at Atrium Health Lincoln’s maternity center was prepared to provide the highest levels of care and safety to anyone who came through their doors, whether they were positive for COVID-19 or not. So, the doctors and nurses on the unit were ready to assist Katerin and her family in any way needed. The entire team was equipped with the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) and safety protocols that ensured they could keep everyone – including patients, staff, and visitors – safe.

Brittney Dixon, the nursing clinical supervisor for Atrium Health Lincoln’s maternity center, New Beginnings, was one of the many people who cared for Katerin when she came in to the hospital to give birth.

“Providing safe, personalized care to women during their birth experience is what guides our practice,” says Brittney. “Caring for Katerin was no different. Everyone here, from the administration to the staff, did an amazing job providing outstanding care to the entire Martinez family during their hospitalization.”

Meanwhile, in the Critical Care Unit…

At the very same time that Katerin arrived at Atrium Health Lincoln, her father was in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) at the same hospital for complications that arose following his diagnosis of COVID-19.

Wanting to help connect the two, the nurses on the unit – who understood how frightened and isolated both Katerin and Victor must have been feeling – asked Katerin if she wanted to see and talk to her dad. They handed her one of the many iPads that had been donated by the Atrium Health Foundation in partnership with AT&T, and the two were able to have a video chat.

“He looked a little weak and tired, but he was okay,” Katerin says. “It was a comfort to us both to be able to check in on each other and know the other one was doing alright.”

By connecting virtually on the iPad, Victor was able to discuss his health concerns with Katerin and was able to make informed decisions about his own care.

And at 7:20 p.m. on April 30 — just two hours after Katerin and Victor’s last conversation — Katerin delivered a happy and healthy baby girl named Diana. Following her birth, the nursing staff was able to play a lullaby for Diana’s new grandfather that he was able to hear in the CCU through the iPad. Victor was beaming from ear to ear when he heard his daughter’s voice and listened to the lullaby signifying his new granddaughter’s birth.

Monitoring everyone for safety

Once Diana was born, everyone —including baby Diana, Carlos and anyone else who came into contact with Katerin recently— was monitored for COVID-19. Both Diana and Carlos tested negative for the virus. After speaking with her pediatrician, Douglas Dodds, MD, about precautions she should take to keep Diana both safe and healthy, she made the decision to be temporarily separated from her baby to reduce the risk of exposure.

“They kept Diana in a separate room while we were in the hospital.” Katerin explains. “Just to be sure that we could keep her safe and healthy.” The maternity unit’s baby monitors were used to keep Katerin in constant visual connection with baby Diana. Baby monitors with video and audio functions have proven to be an extremely useful tool throughout Atrium Health while treating patients with COVID-19, as they allow staff to stay connected with patients while keeping a safe distance and conserving PPE.

Katerin extended her stay in the hospital for an extra day for monitoring. As far as exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, “I did have a mild cough, and had no taste or smell,” she says.

Meanwhile, her father was put on a ventilator – but after a few more days in the CCU, he also recovered and finally tested negative for COVID-19.

Discharged and heading home

At last, everyone was able to be discharged.

Katerin went home; in the meantime, Diana went to stay with Katerin’s aunt for two weeks. During this time, Katerin was able to see her daughter by having video chats with her aunt.

Katerin and Diana were also monitored using Atrium Health’s COVID-19 Virtual Hospital. This new, innovative program uses telemedicine to help eligible COVID-19 patients receive the care they need while they recover in the comfort of their own homes. The care team is able to monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels, remotely. To make sure there were no surprises upon their return home, the family was visited at home by paramedics to make sure they were healthy.

Diana is now back home with her mom and dad. Katerin and her family are settling in, grateful that everyone survived their brush with COVID-19. “Everyone is doing well,” Katerin reports of the family. Baby Diana is healthy, and Katerin and her fiancé are adjusting to their new routine of caring for their newborn, looking forward to their future together as a happy and healthy family.

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