SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Things have changed dramatically for all of us during the coronavirus pandemic.
But that hasn’t stopped many children throughout the ArkLaTex who benefit from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals from still needing medical care. They, too, have had to find ways around the stay-at-home order to keep up with vital therapy to maintain their overall health.
Mason Bonnette is one of those kids. He has a serious condition that affects every system in his body. He struggles with things like regulating his body temperature, muscle weakness, digestive issues, developmental delays and a faster heart rate.
His mom, Heather, has taken social distancing and staying at home very seriously. If Mason or any other member of their family were to catch COVID-19, it could have devastating effects.
“We monitor changes by taking temperature several times a day and just his overall demeanor. He’s always happy-go-lucky; and so we’re watching for signs of any congestion or coughing or anything of that nature.”
Heather also said it’s been difficult for her son to maintain his level of progress now that therapy sessions have moved online. He’s unable to have face-to-face contact with his everyday therapists.
“I do have a fear that he will regress. We are doing therapy, but you can only do so much by a computer or Facetime or things of that nature," his mother said. “He has lost that hands-on, that one-on-one interaction with his therapist and his peers as well in therapy.
“Therapists are doing a wonderful and amazing job. It’s been a very smooth transition moving to an online platform,” Heather continued. "But, yes, it is a fear that he will regress. They’re not able to see the patient, feel the patient, touch the patient. That they normally are on a weekly basis.”
The family has done as much as they can at home to keep up with sessions. “We have our afternoon stretches and exercises, so we are definitely continuing that."
Another big concern is if Bonnette was to come into contact with the virus. The family has taken drastic measures to keep their son healthy and safe.
"The CDC and doctors say this virus affects anyone with underlying health conditions; and his body is stressed as it is fighting his disease on a daily basis,” Heather said.
“If Mason gets a cold or illness, he battles with it for two to three weeks sometimes. So we’re hoping and praying that we can do anything we can to keep him safe and we won’t have to worry about the impact of COVID-19."
The Bonnettes also have limited how much they leave the house and won’t allow any visitors.
"Unfortunately not even the grandparents. We are limiting our exposure and practicing social distancing to where no one is allowed in our house.”
Heather said when they first started sheltering in place, her husband would go out to the grocery store and get everything that they needed.
“But we’ve actually stopped even doing that. This past week, we didn’t even want to get the exposure of going to the grocery store; so we had groceries delivered. They were dropped at our doorstep."
The Bonnettes will take walks or get in the car and take drives to get the kids out of the house, but that’s the extent of their outside contact.
Most of the kids who benefit from Children’s Miracle Network have compromised immune systems, so being around anyone who could possibly infect them with the virus is dangerous.
Amy Heron, executive director for CHRISTUS Foundation, said they still are serving impacted kids daily.
"One of the things that I always think back to is our NICU. Nobody is expecting to use that and when your baby decided to make an appearance whether it's two, four, six, eight, 10, 12 or 15 weeks early. We have babies being born just over a pound and they're not waiting for COVID-19 to be over with”
"We never know when children are going to need the services that we offer. And we know that right now some children can’t come and participate in some of their therapy. They work so hard to achieve the milestones; and right now, some of them may be losing a few of those because they’re not able to consistently do all of their therapy.”
Heron went on to say the hospital will be poised and ready to serve these children and families with whatever they need during this outbreak.
“We want these kids to get back to their childhood as quickly as possible and help them get all of their milestones reached and all of those accomplishments."
Heron also said the CHRISTUS Foundation has partnered with Walmart to create the Registry for Good, where they have listed several snack items to help feed their medical professionals who are working overtime to help fight COVID-19.
“Our associates are working long shifts. They’re on the front line of defense to really protect our community. It’s exciting to see people continue to get healthy. And we just want to make a difference and be able to help the kids and families that need us."