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Pandemic forces families who need special medical care to change how they travel

Posted at 3:04 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 17:04:30-05

A New Mexico family found out quickly how tough it would be to travel during the pandemic.

Kylah Guerra was just 20 weeks into her pregnancy when doctors diagnosed her baby, Emerie, with lung lesions in the lower respiratory tract. That was back in March at the start of the pandemic.

Getting the proper care for their daughter would mean Kylah and her husband would not only need to travel to Children's Hospital Colorado but would temporarily need to live nearby.

“They did let me know that since we are so far that they didn't want us, me, to be travelling back home. So, he pretty much said that day you're going to be living in Colorado until you deliver,” said Kylah.

Doctors say Emerie showed no symptoms when she was born June 24.

The family returned to New Mexico for a couple days but returned less than two weeks later when Emerie had trouble breathing.

Due to the pandemic and the nature of Emerie's condition, getting back to Colorado meant they had to go by emergency helicopter.

“In the moment, we were trying to get her what she needed. Our main priority was just getting her back to where we knew they could help her. Once we seen, the flight crew arrived at our hospital. It was like a little bit of a relief,” said Kylah.

The surgery was successful, and doctors removed the lesions.

Meanwhile, the pandemic hasn't slowed the number of surgeries done at the Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children's Hospital Colorado, because they are considered essential. The hospital has seen a 61% increase in surgeries over the same time last year. About 81% of patients seen in the fetal care center are from out of state.