It was a blast from the past when Brandon Seminatore, a doctor, and nurse Vilma Wong reconnected.
Wong, 54, has worked as a neonatal nurse for 32 years at the hospital in Palo Alto, California.
One day, curiousity catapulted at her brain after she saw the name Seminatore on a young doctor’s ID badge.
Approximately, 30 years ago, there was a premature baby with the same last name Wong cared for. The baby weighed 2 pounds and 6 ounces and was born at 29 weeks on April 19, 1990.
After Seminatore settled into his job, Wong had asked Seminatore about his background.
“She asked me if I grew up in this area, he said. “I said, ‘yes I was actually born in this hospital.’”
Wong knew the name sounded familar. “I kept asking where he was from and he told me that he was from San Jose, California, and that, as a matter of fact, he was a premature baby born at our hospital,” Wong said. “I then got very suspicious because I remember being the primary nurse to a baby with the same last name.”
Seminatore’s mother told him about a nurse she and his father bonded with during his time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 40 days.
Another nurse worked with Wong. His mother had urged him to find both nurses when he was on his month-long rotation at the hospital’s NICU. “They were wonderful nurses,” his mom, Laura Seminatore said. “They helped calm a lot of our fears.”
“My mother said, ‘look for Vilma,’ he recalled. “She was our favorite nurse. She took care of you.”
Very soon, Seminatore questioned if he knew this nurse and Wong was still suspicious.
“There was a big silence,” Wong said. “And then he asked if I was Vilma.”
Seminatore immediately texted his parents when he and Wong reunited in the NICU.
Recently, the nurse and doctor took a photo together in the NICU. Now, Seminatore is a few inches taller and wearing scrubs. Both have elated smiles on their faces.
Wong is not considering retirement any time soon because she loves her job too much.
“As a nurse, it’s kind of like your reward,” she said. Seminatore agrees. “She cares deeply for her patients, to the point that she was able to remember a patient’s name almost three decades later.”
It was such an awe-inspiring event for Seminatore and Wong that both not stop smiling.
“In the end I didn’t have to look for Vilma,” he said. “She found me. We smiled that whole day.”
FORT KENT, Me.—
Kaci Hickox, a nurse who traveled to Sierra Leone to treat Ebola patients, reached a settlement with the state of Maine after she refused to follow the 21 day regulation quarantine last week.
After Hickox left her home last Thursday to go on a bike ride with her boyfriend, Maine health officials obtained a 24-hour court order restricting Hickox’s movement until further action could be taken by the court.
The court order limited Hickox’s travel by banning her from public places and requiring a three-foot buffer in case she encounters people.
On Monday, Hickox and the District Court judge agreed that Hickox would abide by the regulations already in place. She will submit to daily health monitoring, inform state health officials if she travels, and advise officials if her health changes.
The restrictions will remain in effect for the rest of the 21 day quarantine, until November 10.
Hickox said that she considered the most recent court order issued by the state of Maine a success, as is an appropriate and reasonable response and does not compromise her personal liberty.
FORT KENT, Me.—
Earlier this month, nurse Kaci Hickox, 33, served with Doctors without Borders in Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola epidemic. She returned to the U.S. on October 24, and was sent immediately to University Hospital in New Jersey to be tested for the virus. She was then sent to her home in Fort Kent on October 27. Last Thursday, she left her home to go on a one hour bike ride with her boyfriend despite the regulation’s 21 day quarantine.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” Hickox said. She argues that there is no reason for her quarantine because she is not showing any symptoms of Ebola and two tests have yielded negative results.
Maine health commissioner Mary Mayhew issued a statement regarding the state filing a court order to require the nurse to abide by the 21 day quarantine. Mayhew cited concerns about Hickox’s hands-on role in treating Ebola patients and “concerns about the lack of reliability and the lack of trustworthiness in the information that has been received.”
Regarding what she would say to Hickox, Mayhew said, “We have been pleading for common sense, for an appreciation for the risks that exists.”
Mayhew explained that other states including New Jersey, New York and Illinois have implemented 21 day quarantines for health care workers returning from West Africa due to the fact that Ebola symptoms can take up to three weeks to develop.
Hickox justified leaving her house because the only way Ebola can be transmitted is through bodily fluids, and only if the person is showing symptoms.
“You could hug me. You could shake my hand. I would not give you Ebola,” Hickox said.
Norm Siegel, one of Hickox’s lawyers, said any measure restricting his client’s travel is “based on fear and on myth, not on medical fact.”
Police stationed officers outside Hickox’s house to monitor her in case she tried to leave, and local health officials check on her regularly. An unmarked police car followed her on her bike ride, but could not take action to detain her without a court order.
“The government can’t take away your liberty unless there’s some compelling basis for it,” Siegel said.
State officials planned to go to court last Thursday, October 30, to ensure HIckox remains confined in her home.
When doctors told her she had cancer, Tricia Somers’ first concern was for her 8-year-old son, Wesley. With no other close family and little interaction with his father, Wesley would be devastatingly alone when his mother passed away.
Somers was hospitalized for epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a rare vascular cancer, in March. Her worry for Wesley increased until she met Tricia Seaman, an oncology nurse at Community General Hospital in Pennsylvania.
“I remember when she came into the room, it was just an overwhelming feeling I had over me,” Somers said in an interview with Today. “It’s really hard to understand – it was just a warmth. I felt calm, I felt at peace, I felt like this woman is going to be the one who’s going to take care of me.”
Throughout Somers’ hospital stay, the women bonded and shared stories about each other’s families. Like Somers, Seaman had a young son, Noah. She also had three teenage daughters.
One night, when Seaman came in to check on her patient, Somers blurted out a daring plea: “Can you raise my son if I die? If the cancer takes me, can you take my son?”
Little did the woman know that Seaman and her husband were in the process of becoming foster parents.
Recalling that moment, Seaman said, “I didn’t know what to say …. I told her I was flattered …. I was trying to be very diplomatic, everything in me said was saying, ‘Yes, I’ll do it.'”
As the two families began spending time together, Wesley and Noah became fast friends.
“We need to try to help this woman,” Seaman recalled her husband, Dan, saying. “We just need to follow whatever it is God wants us to do here.”
When she started chemotherapy in May, Somers became disoriented, dehydrated, and physically drained. It was then that the Seamans adopted both Tricia and her son into the family home.
“My son is well aware that when I pass on, he is welcome to stay here. And he knows that Dan and Tricia will be his guardians. They’ve explained to him that they’ll never be mommy and daddy, but they’re sure going to try to be close,” Somers said.
“They’ve answered my prayers. It’s wonderful, it’s absolutely wonderful.”