Is failure to thrive killing Covid patients?


Many already know newborn babies diagnosed with “failure to thrive” often die if they are not touched — if they cannot sense and feel the nearness of human warmth and love.

Today, we’re learning that Covid and the various hospital and nursing home protocols tied to intricately caring for, or negligently not caring for, Covid patients are killing these patients.


Because failure to thrive can set in at any age. Some call it giving up, but many things lead up to that “giving up” moment.

For instance, let’s focus on patients who are simply too weak to feed themselves and chew at the same time, too weak to hold a glass of water or juice or a smoothie, too paranoid and anxiety-ridden from all the steroids being used to try to help them draw their next breath and save their lives.

For them, sleep comes hard, if at all. Then after days of no sleep or inadequate sleep, true mental illness issues arise. And we don’t even know yet what the actual virus, and the many approaches to treating it, are doing to the mental status of those who are in these life and death Covid battles.

An answer — one answer — is to get loved ones in the rooms with these patients, loved ones who can touch them, feed them, encourage them. This must happen or the death rate will continue to climb, not just for Covid patients, but for all patients in hospitals and nursing homes. These Covid visitation protocols are affecting everyone and they will continue to do so, even when the Covid crisis starts to subside.


Because the staffing shortage issues will continue to rise. Doctors and nurses are leaving their professions.

In 2002, a major Atlanta hospital failed me in many respects, and I almost died. I just published a book about it. Shortly after discharge from that hospital, I was an emergency admit to Piedmont Fayette hospital where the staff worked diligently and compassionately to save my life.

At Piedmont Fayette, there was a brochure in the welcome kit outlining the extreme healing importance of a family member being present with sick patients. Family at my side made a huge difference for me.

I lived.

Now, Piedmont Hospital has a zero visitation policy for those critically ill with Covid even when family members are licensed health care workers who understand PPE protocol, who not only may have had the vaccine, but also who may have had the virus and recovered.

I am not sending out this press release all over the country to bash hospitals and doctors and nurses. They have their hands, hearts, and beds full. However, we must find better ways to address this deadly “failure to thrive” scourge. Otherwise, the diminishing numbers of medical caregiving staff will continue to rise. Many are already suffering from PTSD. These numbers will increase among nurses and doctors and other caregivers.

It’s a fact.

In the fatigued state of mind and body these frontline heroes already are in, they do not have it in them to deliver the much needed TLC (tender loving care) anymore.

Families must be allowed to access their loved ones again.

It must happen now.

Yes, I have a personal story. I’m ashamed that I waited until I have a personal story, but I have a loved one who presently is fighting for his life in a Piedmont hospital. If necessary, and helpful I will share it. Though it is NOT my preference, I will even host a news conference in front of the hospital (if optics are needed.

This message is going out on behalf of all patients everywhere who need the healing presence of a family member by their side, so I don’t want to make this about me and mine. It is about you and yours, or it will be at some point.

Please share.

Mary Jane Holt

Brooks, Ga.


  1. I empathize with you and appreciate the compassion for patients potentially facing death alone. I appreciate the motivation to help. However, I do not think this is a “must” to resolve. Sometimes loved ones accompanying patients unknowingly cause more harm than good. I prefer qualified health care professionals dictate an institution’s policy for patient care. There comes a point in the human experience to place our trust in something other than family or ourselves. I personally try to turn to God for my strength. I have been hospitalized for months without family or loved one’s visits, the Lord has done more for me and my family than I deserve in those times.