Pregnant mom stuck in hospital without seeing her child fights Alberta healthcare system — and wins!

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Today's story starts off as a frustrating one about how broad, sweeping coronavirus restrictions are harming long-term health care patients and their families through forced separation.

However, the story ends with good news about how two people can move the healthcare system to change policies by refusing to take no for an answer.

Natalie and Jesse Huffman are anxiously expecting their second baby. It should be an exciting time for any family, but for the Huffmans it’s a scary one too. Natalie’s pregnancy is complicated, and she is required to be on hospital bed rest for the last four weeks of her pregnancy. Her pregnancy is so high risk, her doctors don’t want her to leave her hospital room.

But, Rockyview Hospital in Calgary does not allow hospital visitors under the age of 14 because of COVID-19 regulations. This policy means Natalie would be separated from her 2-year-old daughter for 28 days while she remains on bedrest.

Mom and daughter had never been apart for more than 24 hours before this and the additional anxiety and stress of not seeing her little girl isn’t healthy for Natalie’s already risky pregnancy. Natalie knows because she is a nurse, too.

Natalie used her nursing knowledge about how hospitals work to fix this problem.

The Huffmans started suggesting ways to see their little one in the hospital — ways that would isolate the family from the hospital staff and other patients. They wanted to use meditation rooms they knew are going unused.

The hospital said no.

Instead, hospital administration suggested Natalie visit her toddler near the road, off hospital property —something Natalie and Jesse thought was unsafe for both mom and child.  

The Huffmans reached out to me to tell their story, and I interviewed them via Skype in their hospital room.

After that interview, I reached out to the Health Ministry for comment about the situation, and Natalie continued to pressure the staff to see her baby.

And it worked! The Huffmans were able to visit their little one in the very meditation room the hospital told them would be impossible to use just days before.

Natalie hopes that by sharing her story, other moms in her position will see that they can change things too through persistence and advocating for themselves.

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