Survivorship and Success

How Sinai Health’s continuum of care saved the lives of a young pregnant COVID-19 patient and her baby

Survivorship and Success

How Sinai Health’s continuum of care saved the lives of a young pregnant COVID-19 patient and her baby

In early 2021, Janice Nguyen, a healthy 33-year-old, felt everything was coming together for her: She was pregnant with her first child and looking forward to all the joyous milestones: first step, first tooth and first Christmas.

Then, at 23 weeks, Janice fell critically ill with COVID-19 and was transferred to the ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Christie LeeWhen Janice arrived already intubated, Dr. Christie Lee, Interim Site Director and Education Coordinator for Critical Care Medicine, quickly determined the young pregnant patient had severe COVID-associated pneumonia. Her condition dire, Janice worsened to the point where the ICU team decided to ‘prone’ her. At that time, very few pregnant patients had required proning; Janice would be among the first. The procedure worked well, and she started to show signs of improvement.

Dr. Christie Lee

While Janice was in critical care, the ICU team was in constant communication with Sinai Health’s Women’s and Infants’ Health Program. Dr. Lee says collaboration between teams is integral to better outcomes for COVID-positive moms and their unborn babies. “These relationships are important to providing holistic care for the patient,” said Dr. Lee.

After four weeks in the ICU, 20 days of which were spent on a ventilator, Janice was transferred to the Women’s and Infants’ Health program. Although recovered from COVID-19, due to the severity of her illness, Janice was unable to walk, speak or swallow. Her rehabilitation care shifted to the obstetrics interdisciplinary team, who collaborated with Dr. Rebecca Titman, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician from Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital, who helped to create a postpartum rehabilitation plan.

Part of the ICU team involved in Janice’s care

Then, on March 29, 2021, almost two months after Janice had been admitted to Mount Sinai, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived: her daughter Flora Joy Viera was born. Delivered via Caesarian section at just over 32 weeks, Flora was small and went straight to the NICU, but she was healthy.

Shortly after Flora’s birth, Janice was transferred to Hennick Bridgepoint. With a treatment plan already in place, she started intensive rehab immediately. On top of having to relearn how to walk and speak, Janice had a very specific set of goals for her recovery: learn how to be a mother to an infant.

For two months, Janice’s days were filled with multiple hours of occupational, speech and physical therapy, which included learning how to hold and breastfeed her new baby.

Dr. Rebecca Titman“As a new mother, Janice was concerned about how she was going to look after her baby,” said Dr. Titman. “We always focus on the patient’s goals, but for Janice it was unique because child care was such a huge part of her rehab.”

Dr. Rebecca Titman

Days before her release from Hennick Bridgepoint, a reunion over Zoom was held with Janice, her family, and members of her care teams from both hospitals. Through tears, Janice expressed how grateful she was for all the care she’d received. Many got to hear Janice speak and see her walk for the first time. There wasn’t a dry eye on the call.

Today, Janice is home with her husband and toddler. Although she is living with whole body ataxia - the result of mini strokes she suffered while intubated - and continues to receive physical therapy, Janice says she’s enjoying life to its fullest.

Of her Sinai Health care team, Janice says, “I felt very looked after and cared for. They were there when I needed them.”

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About Sinai Health

We are Canada’s leading integrated health system, delivering specialized care to patients across the continuum of care and life course.

Mount Sinai

Global leaders in women’s and infant’s health, chronic disease management, healthy aging and geriatrics, specialized cancer care and emergency medicine.

Hennick Bridgepoint

An internationally recognized rehabilitation and complex care hospital, focusing on research, care and teaching for people with complex health conditions.

Research Institute

One of the world’s top research institutes, powering discoveries in cancer, diabetes and other diseases—leading to new treatments and eventual cures.

Circle of

A leading home-care provider for individuals living in the Greater Toronto Area, helping them preserve their independence and live comfortably at home.

Family Health

Innovative teams combining the best in family-centred care, education and research. We provide families with comprehensive care at every age.