You might expect to see older faces at a reunion, but at one held recently, children who “graduated” from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) were the guests of honor.
Earlier this month, the Children’s Memorial Hermann Richard Rivas, M.D. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital hosted a reunion for its former patients. Held on campus at its new Wolf Park, more than 200 families with NICU graduates donning Halloween costumes attended the Fall Festival-themed event.
The reunion served as an opportunity to celebrate life and also was an opportunity for patients and their families to reunite with the staff that helped care for the once tiny “graduates” – many of whom were born prematurely and/or suffered from health struggles at birth.
“It was a joy to see our former patients healthy and having fun,” said Dr. David Weisoly, medical director of the NICU and Children’s Services. “Our staff forms a bond with these tiny patients and their families in the days, weeks, or even months they spend in our Level III NICU.”
At the reunion, NICU grads and their siblings enjoyed the new playground equipment in Wolf Park, as well as rides on a mini train, face painting, crafts with the March of Dimes, the skills of a juggler, greetings from Montgomery County Pet Partners’ dogs who visit patients, tours of a pediatric transport ambulance, and snow cones on the unseasonably hot day. At the Preemie Place Follow-Up Clinic booth, NICU grads were also invited to paint a small tile that will later be installed in Wolf Park.
“Seeing these once tiny, frail babies grow and thrive is heart-warming and reminds us why we are here in the NICU,” said Children’s Services Director Elizabeth Kutchback, RN-C, B.S.N.
The Level III NICU at Children’s Memorial Hermann in The Woodlands provides the area’s most comprehensive neonatal care and is capable of caring for infants at any gestational age. A multidisciplinary team of neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational and physical therapists, neonatal dieticians, pediatric pharmacists and more provide specialized treatment in a patient- and family-centered care environment. Lactation consultants also work closely with moms to encourage skin-to-skin bonding, breast-feeding or connecting moms to donor breast milk if needed for extremely low birth weight babies.
Additionally, families served by the NICU also have access to The Preemie Place, a multidisciplinary clinic for babies and toddlers who were born premature, sick at birth, or have developmental, feeding, or language needs. The clinic serves patients from birth to age three.
For more information about these services, visit childrens.memorialhermann.org or call (713) 897-5959.