BALTIMORE— The journey of a thriving child could start as early as 23 weeks of life and weigh only one pound at birth.
More than 100 of these special graduates of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), once the hospital’s tiniest and most fragile patients, will reunite with their former caregivers Saturday, Sept. 28, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., for the hospital’s 31st NICU reunion.
The event will be held at Amped Up! (11600 Crossroads Circle, Middle River), with nearly 350 parents, guardians and siblings expected to attend. A special visit by the Baltimore Orioles mascot, Oriole Bird, will arrive at noon.
“We come back to the reunions because we love seeing my son's former medical staff, of course, but it's also a way for us to remember and honor the miraculous journey he had being born at 24 weeks and our gratefulness to the Franklin Square NICU staff for saving his life,” wrote Laura LaChapelle.
“This is a special event for families but also for us as clinicians,” said Fernando V. Mena, MD, FAAP, chief of Neonatology at MedStar Franklin Square. “The NICU reunion is what gives me the needed fuel to go on another year. We try our best every day in the NICU and despite trying, things don’t always go well and babies suffer and parents suffer. Having the privilege to see the parents again, now in a happy place, showing off the progress that their babies have made is beyond motivating. And although much of this progress comes from the constant loving care that they give their children, they are deeply thankful for what we were able to do in the NICU. It makes my year and gives purpose to what I do.”
“We look forward to the reunion because we get to see how much our fellow graduates have grown. We see the staff who had helped our son while he was in the NICU. It is a good time to share our experiences and make memories,” added Mona Taylor.
The NICU at MedStar Franklin Square is a Level III facility equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology and staffed by highly trained, compassionate caregivers. The staff care for infants who are born prematurely or who become ill after birth.
The unit sees around 300 admissions a year and has 19 private rooms. The staff treat the babies with a multidisciplinary team approach including board-certified neonatologists, specialized neonatal nurses and nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists, audiologists, and occupational, physical, and speech therapists. The March of Dimes recognized this commitment to “family-centered” care by awarding MedStar Franklin Square the first March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program in the state of Maryland.
About MedStar Health
MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.