Rhienna Murray gave birth to a healthy baby boy at Yale New Haven Hospital on Tuesday, but because she was COVID-positive, the family said the hospital refused to let her hold him.
Murray’s husband, Todd, was not allowed to be in the hospital because he was considered a close contact. He couldn’t even hold his son until Friday afternoon.
“The damage is done,” Todd Murray said in a phone interview.
It’s called the “golden hour,” the first hour after a baby’s birth. Stanford Health authored a study that found “uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the ‘golden hour’ is critical to infant growth and development.”
That didn’t happen with the Murrays.
Mr Murray said there was never any danger for his son, who tested negative for COVID.
“The risk of transmission is so low,” Murray said.
Murray’s son was born five weeks early and was taken to the NICU as a precaution.
He said his wife tried to pump every three hours, but without the baby on her chest to encourage milk production, it was difficult.
“They snatched it from her five minutes after she was born,” Murray said.
Murray said one of the doctors came to announce to his wife that they have a healthy boy, but ended the call and told them they don’t need their consent to treat him with antibiotics or any other medication.
Murray said his wife refused to leave the hospital without their son.
The standoff between hospital staff and the Murrays ended this afternoon as the pair were reunited for the first time with their baby boy, whose name they had not yet revealed.
“Remarkably, Yale New Haven Hospital denied a mother (and father) any contact with her newborn boy solely because of its absurd COVID policies,” said Lindy Urso, an attorney who reached out to the Murrays for help. “Mrs. Murray – who tested positive for ASYMPTOMATIC Covid on admission was forced to live for 2 1/2 days in an isolation room filled with literature touting the importance of immediate contact between child and mother. Meanwhile, the staff totally failed and denied her any contact with her newborn boy.”
Urso said she must not breastfeed her baby, which even the CDC recognizes is worth the “risk” of a positive test.
“Yale is very clear about its policy over the well-being of its patients – and they are held accountable,” added Urso.
Yale New Haven Hospital confirmed the mother and baby were discharged.
Regarding the hospital protocol, the hospital said in the statement: “Our COVID protocols are very specific, particularly in relation to our most vulnerable patients – newborns in the NNICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). If a new mother tests positive for COVID or has a diagnosis of COVID, the baby is allowed to stay with the mother until discharge. But COVID-positive visitors, including parents, cannot enter the NNICU to ensure the safety of all NICU babies.”