Cincinnati baby receives medical care blocked by coronavirus-related ban after DeWine gets involved

Superbubz's family impacted by COVID-19, DeWine responds

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - After Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine got involved, a Cincinnati-area baby born with clubfoot is receiving treatment that was delayed for weeks by a ban on “non-essential” medical procedures and surgeries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Weston Walter Herbert’s legs are now in casts to correct the deformity he was born with last month, his mother tells us.

“I am so grateful they listened. I appreciate each and every nurse and doctor who is on the front line helping all families with all conditions. It means so much,” wrote Emily Herbert in a Facebook post this week updating her son’s condition.

Related: Superbubz’s parents appeal to DeWine for baby’s surgery blocked by COVID-19 ban

The baby’s mother sought DeWine’s help in a letter last week after she could not get the procedure done by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“The longer we wait the more “delayed” my child may become," she wrote the governor. "We are more then willing and able to wear masks when completing appointments. Hospitals and doctors offices can schedule patients far enough apart that we won’t be in contact before or after our appointments. Please take into consideration the children who are in need of these “nonessential” surgeries. To the parents these procedures are extremely essential.”

She didn’t hear back right away, so her husband, Wally Herbert, shared her letter with FOX19 NOW later the same day.

“Don’t know if you have time for this, but this needs to be known and not just for us but for many many others being denied corrective care that could impact the lives of these kids,” he wrote to us.

The problem was another blow for the couple whose young son, Walter “Superbubz” Herbert, died from a rare form of pediatric cancer in October 2017.

Weston Walter Herbert needs surgery to correct his club feet.
Weston Walter Herbert needs surgery to correct his club feet. (Source: Provided by Emily Herbert)

When we contacted DeWine last week, the father of eight and grandchildren of 24 immediately empathized with the Herbert family.

He called the Herberts that night and pledged to look into the situation. He told them and us he would want that treatment for his child, too, in the same situation.

On Thursday morning, the governor was happy to hear that Baby Weston received the treatment he needed.

“Oh, wow,” he responded to FOX19 NOW. “I called the CEO of the hospital directly. Great news.”

DeWine announced at his daily news conference in Columbus on Wednesday that hospitals and outpatient surgery centers can begin working with people whose elective procedures were delayed by the ban.

The order has been in place the past five weeks to preserve personal protective equipment for medical care providers and to keep hospital beds open. Ohio expected a surge of COVID-19 cases that has not been as high as expected due to social distancing and a stay-at-home order that closed many businesses and all schools that has worked, the governor and other state officials have said.

State Health Director Amy Acton said hospitals should expect a surge in patients after businesses reopen May 1, but the state is able to respond to small outbreaks.

“As we continue this phased-in approach, we are working with hospital systems, health care providers, patients and other stakeholders to determine the next steps,” DeWine said Wednesday. “Eventually, we will be reopening our doctors’ offices and dentist offices. Together, we will get back to normal.”

Some procedures were blocked should not have been, he said.

“"I can tell you that, anecdotally at least, from some of the stories that I’ve heard, that some of the procedures, some of the surgeries that we had no intention of stopping have been postponed, and frankly, that has concerned me a great deal," DeWine said. “We’re starting back now, starting back one step at a time.”

DeWine also told FOX19 NOW on Wednesday: “Frankly, sometimes our orders were misunderstood and people were denied help they need.”

We contacted a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital spokeswoman for comment about why Baby Weston’s procedure was postponed due to the ban on elective medical procedures and surgeries and the governor of having to get involved to make it happen.

We also asked how many total procedures, surgeries, etc were delayed at Children’s due to the ban.

And, in light of DeWine’s remarks about some procedures being delayed that should not have been, if that occurred in other cases at Children’s or do they feel all delayed procedures were appropriate given the circumstances?

This is the response we received Thursday night:

“We are unable to provide any specific information about individual patients because of patient privacy. What we can tell you is that Cincinnati Children’s is actively planning for the safe resumption of elective surgeries and other medical procedures and treatments that were temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are developing our plans based on what is best for our patients and families, the safety of all, and will be compliant with public health orders."

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