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Nearly 300 Guests Attend North Oaks Medical Center NICU Reunion

12/13/2012


Top: Noah Mitchell shows off his reindeer nose with his mom Sarah at the NICU Reunion. Noah was born prematurely in August 2012 and spent a week in the NICU. Bottom: Hope Dugas, 16, poses with Santa Claus at the NICU Reunion. Hope spent 3 months in the NICU after being born 16 weeks early in 1996.

The free event was held on Dec. 1 for former NICU patients and their family members. It featured holiday storytelling, face painting, crafts and refreshments. Each graduate also received a keepsake photo with Santa Claus and a storybook through a partnership with the Hammond Kiwanis Club. Nearly 30 North Oaks Health System staff members volunteered their personal time to host the event. 

Neonatologist Ivan Villalta, MD, and North Oaks Medical Center NICU staff members were among those greeting guests as they arrived. 

"Dr. Villalta is wonderful," affirms Richelle Dugas, whose daughter Hope, now age 16, spent 3 months in the NICU in 1996. "I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to have taken care of Hope."

NICUs are hospital units that care for babies who are born too early or have serious illnesses. While the babies are in the hospital families and hospital staff often become close friends. The NICU Reunion brings the NICU "graduates," their families and the hospital staff together again to celebrate each child.

"It is always a joy to see how our former patients have grown," explains Kirsten Constantino, North Oaks Medical Center Assistant Vice President of Patient Services. "The reunion provides us the opportunity to visit with the children and their families and celebrate their achievements. We look forward to the event every year." 

North Oaks Medical Center opened its NICU in 1991. The unit is ranked in the top 25 percent in the U.S., by the  Vermont Oxford Study.

For more information about North Oaks' NICU or any of the health system's services for women and children, please call the North Oaks Marketing/Business Development Department at (985) 230-6647.

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