Dear Henry, life in isolation
Let's start with a little definition...
Methicillian-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterial staph (skin) infection thats resistant to most medications.
Last week while I was at work I got a call from the Doctor, but I missed it. Around 1pm I finally saw the missed call and listened to the message, he said "This message is for the parents of Henry Thompson, we need to talk to you before you come in, Henry is fine" I know what he said but what I hear was "something is wrong, call us now, the world is ending"... So I called but the Doctor was busy but the woman said "I know what he was calling about" and went on to explain.
A baby in Henry's room tested positive for MRSA, so all of the babies in the room were tested and Henry was positive, he is colonized with MRSA. It's not active and he isn't sick but to protect the other babies he is in isolation. Once a baby is put in isolation they don't get to leave until they are discharged.
I wasn't sure if I should be upset, or worried, or scared. So I shed a tiny tear for Henry's hard day, and also for me. If Henry is in isolation, then so was I. I spend anywhere from 50-70 hours a week in the NICU, isolation sounds awful, but I didn't want to go off the deep end completely just yet.
When we got to the NICU we found Henry, in a glass room with no other babies, the nurse was in with him, in a yellow gown and blue gloves. I had to put on a gown now and wear it the whole time I'm there, which doesn't make any sense because I kangaroo him under the gown, but I'll follow the rules. There was a brief second where they said I had to wear gloves and I was 2 minutes away from a melt down. How was I supposed to not touch him with out a glove on, this isn't even a real illness, it's just an annoyance at this point. Then they decided that parents didn't need to wear gloves. There were all kinds of new rules, that no one was sure of. When and where to wash your hands, where I can and can't go, where I need to pump, what I can touch, when I have to wear gloves. Not even the nurses were 100% sure of all of the rules, infection control wasn't clear on a few things so it was all confusing.
Once I figured it all out and we were confident with the "right" way to do things. They tested all of the babies and 7 were positive, so Henry was moved out of his single isolation room to a mass isolation, so now we aren't really in isolation. We are just in a room with other parents in gowns. Some of these babies are older so 2 have already gone home. I'm assuming once they get down to 2 MRSA babies we will be back in that little isolation room, but for now we are happy with the company.
Here's what to take from this story... they say 30% of the world is colonized with MRSA, and they don't know it. It's only a problem if it's active. It would need to be introduced to an open wound, from once active to another.