Covid-19: Neonatal Nursing in a Global Pandemic

We welcome the contributions of neonatal nurses around the world, who have reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on neonatal care, babies, families and staff.

Reflective Writing Project

This writing project is being coordinated by Dr. Katie Gallagher (University College, London (UCL)), Breidge Boyle (Co-Editor; Journal of Neonatal Nursing), Alex Mancini (Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, London) and Julia Petty (COINN and UK Neonatal Nurses Association Board member). We welcome the contributions of neonatal nurses around the world, who have reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on neonatal care, babies, families and staff. The reflections are hosted here and will also be published in the Council of International Neonatal Nurses News Pages in the Journal of Neonatal Nursing. These are open access articles and can be accessed with the link below.

For contributions to this series of reflections of neonatal nursing in the covid-19 global pandemic, please email your videos or reflections to either: Breidge Boyle (JNN Editor) breidge.boyle@qub.ac.uk, Katie Gallagher (UCL IfWH) katie.gallagher@ucl.ac.uk, Alex Mancini (Chelsea & Westminster NHS FT) a.mancini@nhs.net
or Julia Petty (UK NNA)  j.petty@herts.ac.uk

Our thoughts go out to all the neonatal nurses and allied health professionals around the world, and the families that we work with at these challenging times.

THESE ARE YOUR STORIES.

1. Barbara Howard

The University of Sheffield, UK​

COVID-19 has certainly been a force for change in neonatal academia. Like a typhoon it has spun through our relatively ordered world, thrown everything in the air and left students and academics trying to guess where things will settle when this is all over. On the negative side I have seen the impact upon students working clinically, both emotionally and physically.

2. Brittany Kyle

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, USA

Written in March 2020: I am a NICU nurse and, as such, I am not on the front lines of this pandemic (yet). There is a lot of acknowledgement for healthcare workers, especially nurses, and I feel guilty for not being on the front lines. I feel guilt, and relief, and then even more guilt for feeling relief. But I also feel fear. It is always present, always looming.

3. Dr Leticia Bazo-Hernández

Rovira, Virgili University, Spain

Fortunately, natural selection, different immunological characteristics, among other assumptions, Sars-Cov-2 affects very few children, and those affected, seem only to be so in a slight way. Despite this, there have been cases of children with Covid-19 and, above all, neonates born to a mother with suspected or confirmed Covid-19. 

4. Harriet Vickers

Rosie Hospital, Cambridge UK

I arrived for my nightshift and as usual entered the unit through our reception, only to find a huge sign in place explaining how guidance from hospital chiefs stated that parents are no longer allowed on the unit. As parents are usually allowed unlimited access to the unit and their baby, this was a shock for the unit and all families. 

5. Joana Mendes Portugal

São Francisco Xavier Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal

I am a NICU nurse since I left nursing school. It was my big and only passion. I work now for about 18 years with babies and families. My main areas of expertise are ethics and palliative care. When Covid-19 was spreading quickly in Europe, I was doing a pediatric palliative care clinical practice in Cardiff. 

6. Nicole Gustafsson Valderrama

New Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

Since the beginning of Covid-19 the routines about how to approach the parents if they are positive and/or have any related symptoms has changed a lot. Sometimes It feels like we have new routines each and every week which builds up a frustration because there is not always time to learn the new routines. 

7. Laura Moore

Registered Nurse Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Starship Children's Health, Auckland, New Zealand

 COVID19 has meant a complete shift in how I work. As a neonatal nurse usually at the bedside (or incubator side!) I’ve found myself wandering through adult and paediatric wards, answering calls from nurses, doctors, cleaners, security and administration staff. 

8. Colm Darby

neonatal Nurse, northern ireland

Due to the necessity of wearing personal protective equipment as routine uniform during the COVID pandemic, the only visual aspect of our identity that parents see is our name badge. Although our eyes are visible, the physical barrier of visors, goggles and masks create an obstruction for parents of preterm infants to see our emotions, empathy and feelings. 

9. Tracey Jones

The University of Manchester, UK

How Covid 19 has affected education provision: A senior lecturer’s reflection: The consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic has been felt far and wide. Never before have we experienced the impact of such a global crisis reaching all areas of the world. In the United Kingdom the impact of isolation and being quarantined to our homes has resulted in many of us adjusting the way we socialise, communicate and work.

10. Judy Hitchcock

COINN Board member, Western Australia

2020 The year of the Nurse and Midwife, celebrated officially on 12th May, was blighted by the knowledge that too many nurses have died after contracting the virus whilst providing care for COVID patients, and they continue to do so. The ICN is calling for all governments to accurately record how many health workers have become infected and died from COVID19. 

11. Claudia Morton

DEPUTY SISTER, NEONATAL UNIT, COLCHESTER, UK

Neonatal Nursing through a pandemic is both, challenging and rewarding. I belief, we are by no means over this crisis but the focus has shifted from making a new situation safer, to identifying and implementing measures to safeguard patients and staff in the long term.

12. Collette Cunningham

SENIOR NICU NURSE, UHW, WATERFORD, IRELAND​

Covid-19 first hit the shores of the Republic of Ireland on the 29th February 2020, and within three weeks, it had spread to all 32 counties. By the 12th of March, the Government of Ireland had closed all schools, colleges and childcare facilities, and for the first time in the history of the Republic, St. Patrick’s Day festivities were called off. 

13. Carole Kenner

The College of New Jersey Marina Boykova, Holy Family University, USA

COVID-19 changed the normal rhythm of our teaching.  In the United States, our programs were half way through our semester – only weeks away from graduation ceremonies and summer vacations.  Suddenly we evacuated our offices and classrooms. 

14. Denise Holmes

Senior Midwife at the Neonatal & Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta

I am a senior midwife at NPICU.  As a frontliner in the pandemic my experience bore a lot of mixed feelings.  In March, the news of other countries that were hit so badly together with fast paced changes in policy and the physical environment in hospital was extremely worrying. 

15. Andréia Cascaes Cruz

PhD, RN, Professor at the Escola Paulista de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil; First Secretary of the Brazilian Society of Pediatric Nurses, COINN Board Member

At the time of writing, over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, with roughly 57 000 deaths, have been confirmed in Brazil, according to WHO data.

16. Lisa Sheppard

Family Liaison Sister, Princess Anne Neonatal Unit, Southampton, UK

Reflect. I needed to step off the Merry go round. I needed to breathe. I felt like I’d been holding my breath for 12 weeks. Locking down my ability to breath and think freely. I walked into intensive care to see another little baby moving towards end of life. I just couldn’t do it.

17. Rachel Grech

Senior staff Nurse & Infection Control Link Nurse - Mater Dei Hospital - Malta

As a Senior Staff Nurse and Infection Control Link Nurse working in the NPICU, the Covid-19 Pandemic brought about various challenges.

18. Heather Murphy

NORTHERN IERLAND

COVID-19 has presented many challenges nationally and resulted in the formation of the Paediatric surge plan within Northern Ireland to ensure the safety and security of both neonatal and paediatric services during a worldwide pandemic.