AtlantiCare NICU nurses share gratitude as NICU marks 50th anniversary
“That’s our baby!”
This is something we—and our colleagues—have said or thought thousands of times as we have cared for infants. As Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses, we with our team, have among the most rewarding roles in healthcare.
September is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Month. This year, AtlantiCare is marking the milestone 50th anniversary of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This week, is also Neonatal Nurses Week. We are both Hammonton residents. We are also long-time NICU nurses. It is our privilege to share with you a glimpse of the life-saving care our team provides infants—born too early and/or with medical needs. We also care for their families.
Since AtlantiCare opened its NICU Atlantic City in 1972 in what was then Atlantic City Hospital, AtlantiCare’s NICU has continually enhanced its care and services for babies born too early or with medical needs. Today it is part of the Center for Childbirth at ARMC Mainland Campus in Pomona. It is among many Women’s and Children’s services AtlantiCare provides.
Our NICU team includes compassionate neonatologists from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is part of the CHOP Newborn and Pediatric Care network. The NICU team also includes respiratory therapists, technicians, and other experts—and of course, our NICU nurse colleagues. The NICU team and AtlantiCare Physician Group’s OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine teams collaborate to care for women who have, or are at risk for high-risk pregnancies.
Babies and families for whom we care for often defy tremendous odds.
AtlantiCare’s lowest surviving birthweight baby entered the world 16 weeks early weighing a mere 13.7 ounces.
Last week our team fondly said, “Great job,” as we laughed, cried, and of course—cooed.
The occasion? We were sharing our heartfelt farewell messages with one of the tens of thousands of babies for whom our team—and those before us—have cared over the last five decades.
Ezra Tolbert was born three months early in June of this year at our Center for Childbirth. We wished Tolbertwell as he left to go home with his mom and dad. One of his three older siblings had also spent time in the NICU.
Tolbert weighed only one pound, seven ounces and was 12-and-a-quarter inches long when he was born.
After our NICU team cared for him for three months to the day he was born, he was five pounds, 6.3 ounces and was 16-and-a-half inches long.
Our nurse colleagues made milestone cards marking his growth, and a special bracelet with charms noting milestones he reached. As they prepared him to go home, they added the last charm. It was a boat to symbolize his healing journey to home.
Tolbert and his family are among the thousands of infants and family members—many of whom are from the Hammonton community—who have inspired us.
One of our greatest joys is seeing a former NICU baby—or NICU graduate—months or years later by chance in the community. We are grateful for letters and other updates parents and grandparents share. Hearing about grads’ school, family, health and other milestones reminds us of the difference we—and their families and other caregivers—have made for them. Our NICU reunions, including the Major League Miracles reunion earlier this year—give us the opportunity to celebrate their successes and connect them with other NICU families. This year they included a Hammonton family who brought their then seven-month-old grad to the event.
It is our privilege to give every infant the best chance at surviving, thriving, and living a healthy life. They become like members of our own family.
To learn more about AtlantiCare’s NICU, Center for Childbirth, OB/GYN, Maternal Fetal Medicine, and other Women’s and Children’s Services, visit AtlantiCare.org or call 1-888-569-1000.
Jean Fahy, BSN, RN and Jackie Strickland, BSN, RN are part of the AtlantiCare Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.