Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital is a happy and momentous occasion. Tiny booties, frequent feedings and diaper changes, sleep adjustments and more are highlighted with warm snuggles, gentle kisses and family bonding time.
But for the Sundquist-Koch family, the happiness associated with those first few days as a new family took a sharp and unexpected turn soon after their son August Koch arrived home from the hospital.
At the tender age of 2 weeks old, August spiked a fever and needed to be seen at the pediatric emergency department of Beverly Hospital. Fortunately for August (and his very nervous parents Kate and Simon), Boston Children’s pediatric-trained physicians were on staff to make sure he received the care he needed.
“I was worried but I was also very grateful that we were right where we needed to be to care for our son,” says Kate.
With the fear of infection looming due to his ongoing fever, Dr. Karen Gruskin, a Boston Children’s pediatric emergency medicine physician and Medical Director of Hospital Partnerships for Boston Children’s Hospital, ordered blood, urine and spinal fluid testing and placed August, weighing just 9.5 lbs, on intravenous (IV) antibiotics as a precaution.
Twenty-four hours later, test results showed August had bacterium in his blood stream caused by a staph infection. Kate and Simon were told their newborn baby could not go home and needed to be admitted to Beverly Hospital for at least 6 to 10 days for treatment.
“As a family, it was very stressful,” Kate recalls. “Especially when most families with a new baby are settling in at home.”
Mom, Dad and 19-month-old big brother, Sebastian, spent many long days and nights at Beverly Hospital. Fortunately, their room had a tiny table, was next to a sunny playroom and had a welcoming, child-friendly atmosphere for big brother. Knowing that Boston Children’s physicians also staff the pediatric inpatient unit at Beverly gave their family continued confidence in the care they were getting for August. It made their stressful hospital stay a little easier, Kate says.
“Sebastian loved the bright colors and all the toys he had to play with, and the rooms are big enough for the whole family,” she says. “Plus the staff is familiar with working with families who are in stressful situations, so they were very supportive.” Kate says.
Throughout the next week, August continued to get his medications via IV, but because of his tiny size, there were difficulties maintaining his IV line.
Beverly Hospital’s inpatient pediatric nurses collaborated with Boston Children’s physician Dr. Debra Hillier, a pediatric hospitalist both at Beverly Hospital and in the Boston Children’s intermediate care program. Dr. Hillier recommended transporting the newborn to Boston Children’s main campus to consult with the hospital’s infectious disease team, who could evaluate August’s progress and discuss the best treatment plan.
August’s care team would need to either change his antibiotics or consider placement of a central venous line (CVL) catheter, a more stable line placed into a centrally located vein. “That was the lowest moment, and I was pretty worried at that point,” Kate says of the family’s journey.
And while August’s parents were nervous about the transfer to Boston Children’s, August took it all in stride, even when the special care transport team arrived to take him to Boston. “My little guy must have known they were there to help because his ambulance driver, Paul, was the recipient of August’s very first smile,” she says.
Once the family was settled in Boston, Kate received a call from Hillier to discuss August’s care and make sure the transfer went well. “Dr. Hillier took the extra step. It was nice that she reached out to me,” Kate remembers. “It was very reassuring.” A central line was administered, and August remained on IV antibiotics for the next week. One day shy of his one-month birthday, August was sent home infection free. “We are so grateful for the coordinated care we received, both at Beverly Hospital and later at Boston Children’s,” Kate says.
Though the cause of his infection is unknown, August is seeing an immunologist for follow up care at Boston Children’s at Peabody. One year later, August, described by Mom as a “happy little guy,” is full of personality, hitting all his milestones, and loves playing with his big brother and the family dog, Hazel. “August just turned one year old, and you’d never know by looking at him what a bumpy start he had,” she says.