NICU graduates Gracie (left) and Abbey Wainwright gave Santa a helping
hand during NICU activities.
Fourteen-year-old twins Gracie and Abbey Wainwright spent eight weeks in
North Oaks Medical Center’s
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as babies, but were on hand at this year’s annual NICU Reunion to
welcome their fellow “graduates.”
Dressed as elves, the twins “wanted to give back” to the NICU
by helping out with the event, held Dec. 3, at the North Oaks Diagnostic
Center. The free event was attended by about 200 former NICU patients
and their family members who came out on a rainy, gloomy Saturday to enjoy
holiday music and videos, storytelling, craft-making, face painting and
refreshments provided by Chick-fil-A. In addition, each child had his
or her photo taken with Santa Claus, and received a coloring book and crayons.
Sometimes, a baby may be born prematurely or with a health condition that
requires admission to North Oaks Medical Center’s NICU. In these
cases, the baby’s NICU stay may range from a few days to as long
as 6 months.
The Wainwright twins, who are now freshmen at Albany High School, were
born about 12 weeks prematurely. Gracie weighed 2 pounds, 2 ounces and
Abbey weighed 2 pounds, 5 ounces. They have attended the event each year
since their birth and wanted to assist Santa this year with the younger
It was the first NICU reunion for the Brown family, pictured at left, who
attended the NICU event with 6-month-old Tinsley. She was born in June,
10 weeks early, weighing in at 4 pounds. Today, she weighs 11 pounds.
“The NICU was absolutely wonderful,” shares her mother, Tiffany,
who visited with Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Scott Landry about the baby’s progress.
NICU Nurse Debbie McGinnis, RN, attended the event to “see my little
patients.” Having worked on the unit for the past nine years, she
greeted many familiar faces. Although the babies have grown and changed
in appearance, she recognized their parents and was eager to hear about
the progress her former patients have made. Below, right, Debbie visits
with Brittany Carey and 3-year-old Deuce, who was in the NICU for 98 days
following his premature birth.
“Because these babies often spend a long time in the hospital, it
is natural for a strong bond to form between medical personnel and the
families, sometimes becoming close friends,” according to Kirsten
Riney, North Oaks Vice President of Patient Services.
“We love to celebrate the growth and good health of our patients,”
Riney explains. “It’s a joyful way to start the holiday season
with these families with whom we have shared so much.”
Along with the Wainwright twins, 33 North Oaks Health System staff members
volunteered their personal time to make the event a success.
For more information about North Oaks’ NICU or any of the health
system’s services for women and children, please call the North
Oaks Business Development Department at (985) 230-6742 or