WHWH Patient Beats COVID Gives Birth and Receives Her PhD
There are eventful pregnancies and then there’s the story of the birth of Ava Victoria Kudaisi.
Her mother, Queshonda Kudaisi, already a mother of four, knew early on that this pregnancy would be different. For one thing, she was closing in on her Ph.D at the University of South Florida in
Tampa as she maintained her full-time job as a math coach for the Polk County School Board. She was also continuing to build a nonprofit organization, Narrow Path Outreach Incorporated, aimed at making a positive impact in the lives of children and youth.
But in addition to that, her first-trimester morning sickness extended into the second.
And then, just when the morning sickness subsided, there was something else. Queshonda contracted COVID in August and got very sick.
She went to Winter Haven Hospital’s Emergency Department twice during that time, once for confirmation of her diagnosis.
“The second time I went, I thought I was going to die,” she recounted. “I couldn’t keep food or water down. I had a high fever that I couldn’t control, and I had chills. And I ended up getting pneumonia.
And of course, I’m worried about the baby and I knew if I didn’t eat, that couldn’t be good for her. I wasn’t sure how a baby could survive that and was afraid it would be stillborn.”
After about a month, she had recovered, but shared at the ED that she was unhappy with her current prenatal care provider. A team member suggested she try the Winter Haven Family Health Center, located at 1201 1st St. S., Suite 100A – across from Winter Haven Women’s Hospital. The center sees patients of all ages from birth to geriatrics including comprehensive maternity care. The facility houses the Florida State University College of Medicine Family Medicine Residency Program at BayCare Health System (Winter Haven), whose goal is to increase the number of family medicine physicians in the Polk County area.
Queshonda’s care team, which included Drs. Ashley Falk and Rosa Joseph, family medicine maternity care physicians and residency program faculty members, and second-year resident Dr. Trevor Owens, kept a very close watch on her due to her history.
“We knew that she had recovered from COVID and had already built up antibodies that she would have likely passed on to her daughter,” said Dr. Owens. “But there’s still so much to learn about
COVID and its impact on mothers, so we did want to make sure that she remained healthy throughout her pregnancy."
In the process of learning more about her new patient, Dr. Falk learned that Queshonda was pursuing her doctorate degree and that her graduation date was approaching.
“Between that and the full-time job and taking care of four children already, I was in awe,” Dr. Falk said.
The team took over her care for the third trimester and soon determined that the baby were doing well. But Queshonda was always cautious, even with COVID behind her.
“I’m a ‘show-me’ type person,” she laughed.
And Ava was willing to accommodate. She was born on Dec. 8, weighing in at 7 pounds and 4 ounces.
“It was the easiest delivery of all of them, after all of that, too,” Queshonda said.
With Ava being discharged on the afternoon of Dec. 11, both mom and baby were able to attend graduation later that day.
“It wasn’t like Queshonda was saying, ‘I have to go in person,’” said Dr. Falk. “But we knew it was important for her, and we really wanted it for her. We wanted to do our best to make that happen for her and we were glad that Ava cooperated.”
Queshonda said she is glad she decided to change her care team.
“Sometimes you go to the doctor and you feel like you’re just a number to them,” she said. “From my first visit here, I felt heard and respected, and you can’t overstate how important that is. It was great to see everyone who treated me in the delivery room as well when Ava was born. This has been such a humanizing experience.”
Dr. Falk and the entire team feels that responsibility to treat the whole patient and make them feel part of their care plan.
“When I think about the fact that this patient is entrusting us with their care and the care of their baby, you just take that seriously,” she said. “We’re honored she came to us.”