The Murray family united Credit: Courtesy of Todd Murray

Rhienna Murray gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Tuesday at Yale New Haven Hospital, but because she was COVID positive the family said the hospital refused to let her hold him. 

Murray’s husband, Todd, was not allowed to be in the hospital because he was considered a close contact. He didn’t even get to hold his son until Friday afternoon. 

“The damage is done,” Todd Murray said in a phone interview. 

It’s called the “golden hour,” that first hour after a baby is born. Stanford Health authored a study that found “that uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the ‘golden hour’ is critical to the child’s growth and development.”

That didn’t happen for the Murray’s. 

Mr. Murray said there was never any danger to his son, who tested negative for COVID. 

“The risk of transmission is so low,” Murray said. 

Murray’s son was born five weeks premature and as a result was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a precaution. 

He said his wife was trying to pump every three hours, but without the baby on her chest to promote milk production it’s been difficult. 

“They ripped him away from her five minutes after she gave birth,” Murray said. 

Murray said one of the doctors came in to announce to his wife that they had a healthy baby boy, but ended the conversation telling them they don’t require their consent to treat him with antibiotics or any other medicine. 

Murray said his wife was refusing to leave the hospital without their son. 

The standoff between hospital staff and the Murray’s ended this afternoon when the two were united for the first time with their baby boy, who they had yet to name. 

“Remarkably, Yale New Haven Hospital has deprived a mother (and father) of any contact with their newborn boy based solely on its absurd COVID policies,” Lindy Urso, an attorney the Murray’s called for help, said. “Mrs. Murray – who tested ASYMPTOMATIC Covid positive upon admission, was forced to reside in an isolation room for 2 1/2 days, which room was replete with literature touting the importance of immediate infant/mother contact.  All the while, the staff wholly failed and refused to allow her to have ANY contact with her newborn baby boy.”

Urso said she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed her baby, which even the CDC acknowledges is worth the “risk” of having tested positive.

“Yale is quite clearly putting its politics over and above the well-being of its patients – and they will be held accountable,” Urso added. 

Yale New Haven Hospital confirmed that the mother and the baby had been discharged. 

As for hospital protocol, the hospital said in the statement: “Our COVID protocols are very specific, especially concerning our most vulnerable patients – newborns in the NNICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). If a new mother tests positive for or has a diagnosis of COVID, the baby is allowed to room in with the mother until discharge. But COVID positive visitors, including parents, cannot enter the NNICU in order to keep all NICU babies safe.”