The pandemic was in full swing when Kristina Cevallos found out she was pregnant with her second child—a boy. But, at 27 weeks, she was hospitalized with COVID-19; five weeks later, her son was born prematurely at 33 weeks—weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces—and cared for in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). While it could have been a dire time for the family, the swift, comprehensive and compassionate care that CHOC provided made all the difference; her son, Alexander, is now healthy and thriving.
All kinds of thoughts were flashing through Kristina’s mind when she was hospitalized with COVID in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. Joseph Hospital, next door to CHOC—and, above all, she was especially concerned for her baby.
Finding Her Calm
“It was hard trying to be calm and composed,” she recalls. In the back of her mind, she thought about the complications she had five years ago when her daughter, Athena, was born 28 weeks prematurely. But, that was pre-COVID.
Kristina’s ICU medical team monitored her closely to treat not only her COVID symptoms, but also ensure her baby’s wellness. After two weeks, she returned home and the next month, gave birth to her son. Tiny Alexander was rushed to CHOC’s NICU, where he spent three weeks under the expert and the kind-hearted care of his medical team.
Technology Lends a Hand
The family was able to monitor Alexander’s progress from home thanks to technology. Through an iPad camera in the isolette, NICView lets the family watch their baby thanks to an iPad camera in the isolette. Kristina says Athena was able to use the time to virtually bond with her new brother. And, when he came home on March 13, 2021, she made up for lost time.
“She definitely smothers him with hugs and kisses!” says Kristina.
The NicoBoard also helped tremendously during Alexander’s NICU stay. It’s a tablet-based application designed by the father of another NICU patient, that takes the stream of numbers pulled from a baby’s electronic medical record and translates it into easily understood, simple sentences, along with graphs and charts.
“I put my faith in the doctors, nurses and God,” she says. She appreciated the compassion of Alexander’s team to give her and her husband, Paul, peace of mind and gave the family the reassurances they needed.
“It felt like I was talking with friends!” she recalls. “It’s not easy coming to the NICU—one of us at a time, Paul or me—so it was nice to talk easily and comfortably with Alexander’s team.”
Biggest Smile Ever
Now five months old (his age adjusted for his growth and development), he is rolling over, starting to sit up and “definitely starting to show interest in foods,” Kristina says. “He’s a happy baby, who loves watching his sister and loves being cuddled.”
Alexander even has a favorite morning route: when he first sees Kristina or Paul, he gets super-excited and has the biggest smile ever!
“If it wasn’t for CHOC, and its community of supporters, we wouldn’t have been able to have this experience, this good story to tell,” says Kristina. “CHOC made us feel comforted and confident for our baby’s health.”
CHOC’s NICU has the highest rating by the American Academy of Pediatrics—a Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which exceeds the standards of a traditional NICU