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.