At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, Dalliana and Brandon took off to a birthing center in Brooklyn. In less than 24 hours, sweet baby Lobo Mellette was born and was back home.
Baby Lobo came into the world at a time of unprecedented crisis.
With a raging pandemic happening in New York, hospitals were eager to minimize the time patients spent in healthcare settings.
Dr. Robin Scott from the Bronx Health Collective, a program supported by Children’s Health Fund, had been not only Brandon’s pediatrician, but had also cared for many members of his family. “Dr. Scott was someone that I knew I wanted to take care of Lobo. She has been taking care of all the Mellettes. Me, my sisters, my aunts, my cousins, everyone.”
The pandemic caused Dalliana and Lobo to be released from the birthing center when he was only a few hours old. Two days later, at Lobo’s first pediatric appointment with Dr. Scott, she noticed that he looked a little yellow as if he were jaundiced. When the labs came back, they confirmed that he had elevated levels of bilirubin, a common newborn problem. If bilirubin levels get high enough they can cause permanent brain damage, and his levels were extremely concerning. Baby Lobo needed to go to the hospital immediately for treatment.
Navigating healthcare settings during the pandemic was not easy, but Dr. Scott made the calls and arrangements to ensure all was ready when Dalliana and Lobo arrived at the hospital. What could have been a very serious situation given the challenges with healthcare access during this pandemic, was not. Thanks to Dr. Scott, Lobo soon got better and went home.
Families like the Melletes exemplify many families cared for by the Bronx Health Collective. Of all the boroughs in NYC, the Bronx saw the highest infection and death rates. This loss was magnified by the economic situation. “So many of our families are essential workers who, if they don’t go to work, they don’t get paid. And when they weren’t able to go to work during the pandemic because so many things were shut down, we found that a lot of our families didn’t have the food that they would normally have,“ said Dr. Scott.
The clinic quickly stepped up not just to stay open for patients like baby Lobo but to help in other urgently needed ways. Through the nutrition team, they mobilized to provide essential staples like food and baby supplies, household supplies like toilet paper, and face masks. The food pantry was expanded and staff delivered groceries to very vulnerable patients like older adults and those who could not leave their homes.
“Being able to come together and help the families and then see the joy in their face when we come and bring them their food on the fifth-floor walk-up, like it really feels nice that they know they’re not alone and we can work together to make sure that they feel seen and heard and appreciated,” said Zariel Grullon, registered dietician with the Bronx Health Collective.
Brandon and Dalliana can hold a healthy baby Lobo securely this holiday season because of the care and dedication of Dr. Scott and the Bronx Health Collective.
“It takes a village and a community to raise a leader in the world. I think if I didn’t have the opportunity to have Dr. Scott in our life, it would definitely be different. I feel so comfortable with her. I feel like I can speak up. I feel like we can have a conversation on the future of Lobo and I think that’s so important.”
Lobo means wolf in Spanish. When choosing his name, Lobo’s parents were inspired by this quote: The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack. Together, we can wrap children and families like Lobo’s with urgent support to help them make it through this incredibly tough period.