Akiko and Mike Giometti were excited to bring their newborn son, Zecco, home from Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco hospital. Less than three weeks later, Zecco was back in the hospital with RSV bronchiolitis. This viral infection of the lungs makes sleeping and normal breathing extremely difficult, especially for infants, and is extremely painful for parents who see their children so uncomfortable.
As soon as young Zecco was diagnosed, his San Francisco medical team rushed him across the bay to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, where mother and son spent the next eight days.
For Akiko, it was one of the hardest weeks of her life, but also one of the most inspiring. She credits Kaiser Permanente’s approach to communication, both across the large number of people in her two-city care team and with her family, for making a difficult time more bearable.
According to Akiko, “Our pediatrician called me every single night while we were in Oakland PICU… She would call at 7 or 8 at night. Unbelievable—I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was on her own time, dinner time, her own family time.”
Another team physician helped in a different way. Conscious of how busy doctors can be, Akiko nervously tried to rush her questions, but the physician told her to take her time. “We never, ever felt like there was a rush. Every question they treated like it was the most important question in the world, and they answered it so thoughtfully.”
In stressful times, a little humor can also be a huge comfort. Another team member was explaining to her how resilient infants can be despite their fragile appearance. Seeing that Akiko was still worried, he said: “I think you need to worry more about how to send all your kids to college.” That put things in perspective and made her laugh, because the doctor knew the Giometti family had four kids.
Today, young Zecco is home and doing fine. It’s an experience she would never want to relive, but Akiko says, “I’m incredibly impressed by the wonderful, committed people, and personalities… the people… the caregivers who were part of this incredibly scary, stressful process.”