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“Don’t cancel the appointment before you have a Plan B”

 

COVID-19 pandemic has been raging across the globe for more than a year now. Healthcare systems have been brought to the brink and, as a consequence, maternal and newborn health services have been disrupted in many countries as hospitals were forced to reallocate their resources elsewhere and take measures to protect staff and patients from a possible COVID-19 infection.

 

Babies born too soon, too small, or too sick are especially at risk when it comes to COVID-19. Not only are they extremely vulnerable to infections due to an immature immune system, they also often already have other health challenges which require more long-term continuing or follow-up care. In these cases, families are faced with a dilemma: If they stay home and isolate in order to protect themselves from COVID-19 and the repercussions of a possible infection, they miss out on important follow-up treatment and targeted therapy. If families do choose to attend follow-up care and therapy appointments, they risk contracting COVID-19, which could endanger themselves and eventually their preterm or sick child.

 

The Standards of Care for Newborn Health also focus on the importance of follow-up and continuing care and argue in favour of targeted and structured follow-up systems and continuing care for preterm and sick babies. But how can parents organise follow-up appointments in times of COVID-19? How can families organise continuing care in a way that keeps vulnerable babies (and older children) safe?

 

EFCNI’s Dr. Annika Brunck spoke with Dr. Britta Hüning, a paediatrician and neonatologist at the University Hospital Essen in Germany, about these and other questions. Dr. Hüning has helped author the standard on “Transition from hospital to home” and is also very experienced in advising and supporting parents of preterm and sick babies. Her biggest advice: “Don’t cancel the appointment before you have a Plan B!”

 

Watch the full interview below.

 

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