Doctors and nurses of Henry Mayo’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, were gathered with families they cared for the sixth annual reunion at Richard Rioux Park in a celebration of life.
The reunion offered different activities for families to do, from a toddler play area, bounce houses and other activities for kids and their parents.
“We actually just had our anniversary, we opened June 4, 2012,” Sherry Zamudio, chair of the NICU reunion, said Saturday. “Today, we invite all the previous patients, the babies and their families to come celebrate the fact that they graduated from our NICU.”
Over 600 people were invited to attend the reunion, between NICU graduates and their families. Kids that were attending ranged in age from 6 years old to 6 weeks old, according to Zamudio.
“It’s just to celebrate the fact that these wonderful people have come into our lives and that they are doing great,” Zamudio explained. “Every single person here is the reason we love working at the NICU. These families leave an impression on our hearts. They really become family. We’re a small community hospital, every year they come back to the reunion, it’s like Christmas every year.”
NICU treats severely ill or premature newborns with specialized care. Doctors and nurses with specialized training work day and night at Henry Mayo to give babies who require intensive care the treatment they need to survive, according to Sally McGann, director of Women’s Services at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital
“The NICU is there for critical-care newborns who need higher level care,” said McGann. “The experience of neonatal nurses, neonatologist, the neonatal respiratory therapist is a team that comes to high risk deliveries to get them the care they need immediately from the intensive care unit.”
For families that attended the reunion it was an opportunity to thank the NICU personnel that helped care for their babies that may have had a difficult birth.
“This means a lot, it’s healing in the sense of what trauma (our kids) have experienced early in their lives,” said Larry and Sandra Medrano, parents whose kids have gone through the NICU. “All the parents can come together and share stories.”
The NICU has created one big interconnected family of patients and caregivers that is built on the shared experience of hardship, according to the Medranos.
“A big part of it is gratitude, coming back and seeing the people that actually took care of our kids and then remembering them after four years and just to continue to say thank you,” Larry Medrano said. “They really are truly special in our hearts and in our life.”