Ball comforts infants at Madison Hospital during COVID-19

MADISON – In the Level II nursery at Madison Hospital, Erin Ball has felt a bit sheltered in those confines during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I have been lucky enough not to experience the worst of the worst and instead have made it my priority to be as clean as possible, in and out of the (nursery), and keep it that way,” Ball said.

“Our babies are not exempt from this virus, so it is our job to prevent them from coming in contact with it in our care,” Ball said. “This situation has made me more aware, less complacent and better at cleaning surfaces in between parent visits.”

Ball, who is Certified In Critical Care Nursing or CCRN, has worked at Madison Hospital since the Level II nursery opened about eight years ago. Previously, she worked at West Virginia University in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU for three years.

“Restricted visitation has largely affected the attitude and morale of our patients. They usually have family streaming in and out, and now it often makes them sad or disappointed,” Ball said. Patients often are on edge, which can affect the frequency of nurses visiting rooms to assist them.

However, Ball has seen positive changes with the nursery’s overall neatness and cleanliness. “Nurses often wipe their work stations before and after use, and wash hands any chance they get. We’re also limiting the number of staff in the patient’s room, which can help them get more rest. These changes are beneficial and a good habit to keep,” she said.

Considering herself lucky, Ball has not had any patients confirmed positive with COVID-19 or requiring a ventilator. However, a former coworker and friend is quarantining from family after exposure to a COVID-positive patient.

“We haven’t yet seen the full impact on our patients, but we will in nine months,” Ball said. “We’re prepared for an influx of quarantine babies and will have to adjust staff and take more calls to accommodate.”

Ball’s former coworker and friend Sara currently is quarantining, away from her family due to COVID-19 exposure. During a travel position to help support her family, Sara was exposed to an asymptomatic labor patient.

“Now, she is stuck in a hotel by herself, away from her five children for 14 days. From the beginning, this was all our worst fears as nurses,” Ball said.

“Sara is a wonderful nurse, who we can’t wait to have back. She is incredibly strong and doing her best to stay positive while keeping her family safe,” Ball said.

To bring a smile to Sara’s face, Ball took a basket of quarantine goodies; friends also contributed. “I delivered the basket to Sara’s hotel room — complete with masks and social distancing! We’re all praying Sara’s test is negative, and her family is not at risk,” Ball said.

“We’re all a little mentally exhausted with everything going on around us,” Ball said. “Stress has had a physical effect on me lately, but I’m still grateful for my situation … it could be so much worse.”

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