Hospital restrictions cause new dad to miss 'special milestone'

Charize Villapando gave birth to Calvin Jacob last Friday, but her husband Jefferson was not...
Charize Villapando gave birth to Calvin Jacob last Friday, but her husband Jefferson was not allowed to visit his wife due to the Canterbury District Health Board's visitor restrictions. Photo: Supplied
A move to further tighten visitor restrictions at Christchurch hospitals has impacted many patients and their families.

Last week, the Canterbury District Health Board adopted a no-visitors policy, meaning friends and family would not be able to visit their loved ones over the lockdown unless they were regarded as an exception.

After five years of trying, Richmond couple Charize and Jefferson Villapando were eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child, Calvin Jacob, in April this year.

Instead, what greeted them leading up to the birth was a global pandemic, a level 4 lockdown, and Calvin's early arrival in March - just as Christchurch Women's Hospital changed its visitor policies.

Mrs Villapando said she was surprised because when they came to the hospital for labour induction on March 25, the hospital allowed one support person - Mr Villapando - to be present.

Shortly after their son was born on March 27 following an emergency cesarean, the rules had changed and Mr Villapando was asked to leave.

Said Mrs Villapando: "It was really difficult for me since I'm a first-time mum, and my mindset was that my husband would be there during recovery. It was hard to move around, and then I still had to take care of my newborn baby.

"I also felt bad for my husband because it took us five years to conceive this baby; I know how heartbroken he was when he found out he needs to be away from us during this special milestone."

"But the hospital staff took really good care of me and my wee man. They're risking their lives for us, so they also need to protect themselves and their families."

The CDHB adopted strict measures on March 26, only allowing a nominated person supporting patients through their end of life care, a parent or guardian supporting a child, and one support person for those who are giving birth.

Christchurch Hospital. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Christchurch Hospital. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Villapandos understood why these measures were in place, and Mr Villapando returned 48 hours later to pick up his wife and newborn son.

Said Dan Coward, CDHB Covid-19 incident controller: "Overall, our patients and their families have been incredibly understanding of why we have this in place.

"They understand our new policy is designed to protect those receiving care in our facilities.

"We understand it will be challenging for families who cannot visit, but now is the time for our community to step up and help us protect those in our care."

Mr Coward said since the restrictions were implemented there has been no security issues requiring escalation, but was disappointed that people had stolen protective equipment from hospitals.

"This is incredibly disappointing as our supplies are crucial to continue providing appropriate and safe care to our patients.

"With these supply pressures, we have now taken steps to ensure this does not occur again, by having things like hand sanitiser in locations easily observed by staff."

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