Last week I faced the task of telling brand-new parents that their 2-lb premature son needed emergency surgery. The conversation was all the more difficult because, surgery or no surgery, odds were he would die. They agreed to the procedure with one request: that we allow his grandparents and uncles the chance to meet him first. They didn’t want their son to die alone. Ordinarily, I could facilitate such a reasonable request. Even in normal times, the hospital isolates patients from home, family, and community, so this seemed like a small sliver of grace. Yet even this was now precluded; in response to the ongoing pandemic, our hospital has instituted a necessarily stringent visitor policy. The most inflexible policies are reserved for the COVID-19 unit, which only allows one parent, clothed in gown, gloves, mask, and goggles, to stay per sick child. This parent cannot leave the hospital room until the child is discharged. Knowing they too will likely get infected, parents choose to enter in so their child does not suffer alone.

 

Credit: iStock, KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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Citation Antiel RM. Oedipus and the Coronavirus Pandemic. JAMA. 2020;323(22):2231–2232. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.8594