HOUSTON - A Houston-area family has been separated the past three months due to COVID-19. The mom has been in the hospital on a ventilator and has been desperate to see her little girl. Her husband talked to the staff at Houston Methodist Hospital about the possibility of a reunion and they made it happen!
This was a milestone for Denise Bazaldua, getting to see her daughter for the first time, since struggling with COVID-19, confined to a ventilator to keep her alive. It's hard to heal when you're emotionally struggling. Denise misses her family and her husband and 2-year-old daughter miss her.
Medical experts at Houston Methodist Hospital recognized that loneliness can impact health and agreed to a reunion. They wanted it to be special, not scary for the toddler, so they took time through play to prepare little Emily.
"We started with the music. We started engaging in the music and then we slowly brought in toys, and then we slowly brought in medical toys, but we kept going back to the music," explains Jenn Townsend, one of the Music Therapists at Houston Methodist.
Music can be magical and helpful for patients of all ages, and props can especially help little ones, like Emily.
"By putting some of the equipment on the baby doll, where she could touch it and explore it, it really opened her up to normalizing and feeling safe around that equipment. We introduced the baby doll first, engaged how comfortable she was with that, once she got comfortable with the baby doll that she was really playing with it, giving the baby doll medicine, accepting kisses from the baby doll, then we introduced the book so that we could say, 'Look baby has a tube. Mommy has a tube. Baby has a straw in her arm for medicine and mommy has a straw in her arm for medicine'," explains Jenn.
Once they felt Emily was prepared, she finally got to look into the face of her loving mother. Plenty of smiles all the way around. Denise can't talk because of the ventilator but the emotions on her face speak louder than words. It meant everything to her husband.
"I didn't expect anything like this. I thought it was going to be something like hey, we really can't do something for you and it was just going to be a flat out no, but Houston Methodist was able to listen to us and just try to make it work out for us overall and I think they really listened to us and that's all you really want from somebody. It's just for them to listen to you and for them to accommodate what you really want and they did that," says Jose Bazaldua, Emily's dad.
It was also a positive experience for hospital workers.
"Houston Methodist is the hospital with a soul and that soul makes us care for the entire person and the entire person includes the entire family. This mom is not thriving because she's away from her daughter. It was important for her treatment and important for her care. Important for her healing to see her daughter, it's important for her daughter to continue having that bond," says Jenn.
That bond, strengthened by time spent together. Now memories can hold them until Denise gets back home to her family.