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'This is a life-changing event,' NICU parents having to choose which one stays in hospital to visit their baby

Gerrick Hilliard is a new dad. Giana was born last week but because she was premature she needs to stay in the hospital.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Giana Grace is the newest addition to the Hilliard family. The beautiful baby girl is the first child of Gerrick and Brittany, “It was surreal, I got to cut the umbilical cord, she is amazing,” said Gerrick Hilliard.

The tiny bundle of joy is just that tiny, born three weeks early Giana weighed only 3 pounds and 13 ounces at birth, “Healthy but tiny,” said Hilliard.

Giana was not due for another three weeks but while the couple was heading home to Virginia after visiting family in Charlotte Brittany didn’t feel well. The couple drove to the nearest hospital in Greensboro, “They (Cone Health) decided not to take the baby out but to monitor her,” said Hilliard.

Brittany was admitted and would give birth five days later to Giana. When Brittany was initially admitted patients were allowed, two permanent visitors. The policy would change during those five days and only Gerrick could be with Britany during the birth, “It was frustrating because her mom had been there,” said Hilliard.

Once Giana was born, she was moved to the NICU at Cone Health while doctors and nurses monitored her. At that point, Gerrick and Brittany were both allowed to be there but on March 30, the policy changed again, “We talked to the nurses, but their hands were tied,” said Hilliard.

The new policy only allowed one visitor per patient so Gerrick decided it best for Brittany to stay and have him leave, “This is a life-changing event and to not be there, is disheartening,” said Hilliard.

A nearby hotel is where Gerrick spends most of his time these days. He works inside the room and will often Facetime Brittany and Giana, “I just miss them,” said Hilliard.

It’s certainly not the ideal situation and while part of Gerrick understands why the hospital is only allowing one visitor the other part is a dad, “Systematically it makes sense, we are in a pandemic, but it’s frustrating,” said Hilliard.

The policy at Cone Health mirrors many hospitals around the state and the country. Medical facilities are swamped with coronavirus patients and directors are trying to make sure other patients or visitors don’t get infected or bring it inside the hospital.


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