I didn't second guess going to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell for a second. I feel 1,000% that I made the right decision.
Kelly Jones Howell, 40, and her sister-in-law, Maggie Lear, 36, didn't plan to get pregnant at the same time, but they did — and they delivered their babies within 30 hours of each other in May 2020. Even though the COVID-19 crisis was well under way and New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, both women had complete confidence in their care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where they had each received their prenatal care.
For Kelly, it was baby number two. Rooney Howell was born at the same hospital on February 3, 2019. When Maggie visited Kelly on the maternity unit then, she was impressed with the quality of care. She became a patient in NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell's OB/GYN practice on East 72nd Street when she was ready to plan a family of her own. As a Manhattan resident, it was also convenient for Maggie and her husband, Scott.
When Kelly and her husband, Daniel — who is Maggie's brother — moved from the Upper East Side to Manhasset, Long Island in March 2020, she continued to receive her maternity care at the same NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell practice on East 72nd Street. "The care has always been so good," explains Kelly. "Their reputation for labor and delivery is unparalleled, and their neonatal intensive care unit is one of the best in the city. I was not going to compromise our care by changing practices."
Maggie was first to arrive for delivery. At 7 p.m. on May 10, she was admitted to the hospital for induction of labor 40 weeks and two days into her term. When she and Scott arrived, they were already wearing masks (a requirement of the hospital) and their temperatures were taken as they were screened for COVID-19 symptoms. It was a process similar to the one that patients experienced at the East 72nd Street office — where they were greeted outside, had their temperatures taken, and were brought into the practice one by one to keep everyone safe.
"Despite these precautions, it didn't change the level of care I received at all," Maggie asserts.
Once inside the hospital, Maggie and Scott proceeded to an antepartum area and Maggie was tested for COVID-19. Her labor was induced and 23 hours later, at 10:01 a.m. on May 11, Clark Lear was born, weighing in at 8 pounds 13 ounces and delivered by OB/GYN Dr. Allison Boester. Scott was able to stay with Maggie the whole time, including the double room where she was admitted without a roommate to reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission. Clark and other infants born on the unit who did not require NICU care roomed in with their mothers instead of staying in the nursery, as an additional precaution.
"The nurses were so attentive to us. I think they were cognizant of the fact that we couldn't have other family visiting us because of COVID, and they gave me lots of guidance about infant care and breastfeeding," Maggie notes.
The next day, OB/GYN Dr. Wenhui Jin — who was also Kelly's doctor — was circumcising Clark when Maggie got a call from Kelly saying that she wasn't feeling well. She was scheduled for a repeat C-section but had gone into labor. There was a rupture of her uterine incision from the first C-section and the baby was stuck there. She needed to get to the hospital quickly.
"My sister-in-law was already there and said everything was fine, and that gave me even more confidence to go in," says Kelly. In record time — thanks to the lack of traffic due to the pandemic — Daniel drove Kelly to the hospital from Long Island in just 26 minutes, arriving by 11 a.m.
He and Kelly went through the same precautions — wearing masks, having their temperatures checked, and having Kelly tested for COVID-19. Daniel was able to stay with her the whole time except for the two hours where she was being triaged and tested for the virus (a protocol for patients going into the operating room). At 4 p.m. on May 12, Dr. Jin delivered Keegan Howell by C-section. He came into the world at 8 pounds 6 ounces.
Moreover, Kelly's and Maggie's rooms were right next door to each other, which Daniel especially enjoyed. "I hadn't seen Maggie for three months and probably wouldn't have seen her because of quarantine, but I got to see her in the hospital," he says.
Having given birth in the same hospital just 15 months before, Kelly feels like the experience was not vastly different — other than the extra precautions being taken to protect patients, families, and staff from COVID-19. Both families felt very safe and secure. Maggie, Scott, and Clark went home on May 13, and Kelly, Daniel, and Keegan went home to big brother Rooney and Kelly's mother on May 14.
"I didn't second guess going to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell for a second," Kelly concludes. "The quality of care was incredible. I feel 1,000% that I made the right decision."