Carilion NICU closed to all visitors, including parents, amid coronavirus concerns

Closure began Tuesday at 7 p.m.

ROANOKE, Va. – Carilion Clinic closed its NICU Tuesday, so no one will be permitted to visit Carilion Children’s NICU.

These limits include the parents of any child being treated.

Dr. Kimberly Dunsmore, the chair of Carilion Children’s Hospital, said the purpose of the decision is to protect these vulnerable patients from any exposure to the coronavirus.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make. We know how important it is for families to bond with their newborn infants,” said Dunsmore.

The move is likely to cause anxiety and fear for NICU parents. 10 News Anchor John Carlin’s son and daughter in law, Jonathan and Beth, just took home their twin boys from the NICU less than two weeks ago. Their first son, Luke, also spent time in the NICU so they were pros this time around.

“With our first son it was very stressful all the time, it was I want to be there, I want to go to as many care times as possible," Jonathan Carlin said.

While this time around was easier, they know can empathize with the pain other parents are going through. They said other parents can trust the hospital’s decision.

“I’m sure it’s so hard to be leaving them there but they really are in the best hands possible and it hopefully will feel like just a tiny blip of your life together," Beth Carlin said.

The hospital has set up livestream video so parents can still see their child and interact with the treatment teams.

At this time, there is no timeline to reopen the NICU.

Carilion Children’s NICU is working with mothers to continue to provide breast milk for their babies through a coordinated drop off program.

Even with this change being made, Carilion’s labor and delivery policy is not changing. Labor and delivery patients are allowed one visitor during their stay, including during the birth.