When Brittany Carey’s baby was born weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces, she
knew she wouldn’t be able to bring him home from
North Oaks Medical Center
for a while.
But she never imagined that it would be 98 days before he would be released
from the hospital’s
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or that it would be 10 weeks before she would hold him for the first time.
“It was the longest three months of my life,” Mrs. Carey disclosed.
“The NICU team was great. The staff was great. And they took precautions
that helped make him the healthy, healthy baby he is today.”
On Dec. 5, the Careys reunited 2-year-old Warren “Deuce” Carey
Jr. with the NICU staff who cared for him during the first months of his life.
The Careys were among about 300 former NICU patients or “graduates”
and their family members who were honored during the annual NICU Reunion at the
E. Brent Dufreche Conference Center, located within North Oaks Diagnostic Center in Hammond.
“I wanted Deuce to see all the nurses, and I wanted them to see him,”
she commented. “We’ll come every year. They got to know him
for three months and almost didn’t want to send him home.”
Sometimes, a baby may be born prematurely or with a health condition that
requires admission to the NICU, and his or her stay may range from a few
days to as long as 6 months.
With extended lengths of stay, it is natural for a strong bond to form
between medical personnel and the baby’s family—sometimes
even close friendships, according to Lead Nurse Practitioner Scott Landry.
“We see these children at their worst and see the families going
through difficult times. As these children heal, we enjoy the comfort
of knowing they go home healthy with their parents,” Landry shared.
“It gives us inspiration to continue fighting for them.”
Since the NICU was opened in 1991 at North Oaks Medical Center, thousands
of children have spent time there.
Sixteen years ago, Kellie Husser, suffering from an infection and requiring
a blood transfusion, spent two weeks in the NICU. She and her mother Shannon
were the first to arrive at the reunion, following her “Sweet 16”
birthday party the night before. They have attended every year since Kellie’s birth.
“We plan our calendars around this reunion. Even when she’s
married with children of her own, we’re coming back to it,”
Mrs. Husser remarked. “They (the NICU) saved her life. It was touch
and go. We are so thankful.”
Kellie especially looks forward to visiting with staff member Jackie Lackings
each year, Mrs. Husser added.
A highlight for graduates is visiting with Santa Claus and taking a keepsake
photo with him. They also enjoyed holiday music and videos, face painting,
storytelling, games, craft-making and refreshments provided by Chick-fil-A.
In addition, each child received coloring books and crayons.
Twenty-five North Oaks Health System staff members volunteered their personal
time to help host the event.
For more information about North Oaks’ NICU or any of the health
system’s services for women and children,
click here or call North Oaks Corporate Communications at (985) 230-6647.