On Feb. 22, 2016, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center opened the doors of a brand new, state-of-the-art, patient-centered Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Designed to optimize the care experience for families with babies born prematurely or those who are in need of specialized care following birth, the new unit is spacious, light-filled and comfortable. It also reflects the caring spirit and kindness of the community it is part of, with philanthropy playing a critical role in the hospital’s ability to make the vision for this new space a reality.
When Pat Gilland, a member of the Auxiliary at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, heard the organization was planning to open a new NICU, she knew immediately that she wanted to be involved. In October 2014, she and her family experienced the NICU firsthand when her twin great granddaughters, Mia and Hayden, were born about 10 weeks earlier than expected. Despite the fact that Gilland had worked for MedStar Franklin Square for more than 30 years, she had never stepped foot into the NICU, until the day that call came.
“I walked into the NICU and expected to see a huge space,” she says. “It was very well run, but very small. It was clear that more space could really improve the patient experience for new moms and dads.”
Stories like Gilland’s, along with a tour of the existing unit, inspired the hospital’s Auxiliary board. They pledged to raise $1 million over a five-year period in support of the new unit. Activities to raise money have included an annual bull and oyster roast, vendor sales, thrift and gift shop sales, and proceeds from newborn photos taken in Labor and Delivery.
Passionate about the pledge, Gilland decided to run for the office of the Auxiliary president, and has held that role since April 2016.
“We are well on our way to reaching our goal,” notes Gilland, whose greatest joy is playing with her now 2-year-old great granddaughters, who are happy and healthy. “People join the Auxiliary for many reasons: to make new friends, belong to a group and to stay active. For me and many others, it’s about helping our community and supporting a good cause. The opening of the new NICU is a great example of that.”
Initial architectural plans for the new NICU included construction of an outdoor garden—a place for families to convene for moments of peace and tranquility, as their babies are receiving critical care. At one point, those plans were halted due to budget limitations. And then Wirtz and Daughters, a local landscape supply company, stepped up to the plate. They volunteered their time and talent, along with their partnerships, to create the garden, free of charge. “We pulled together a few partners from within the community to make it happen,” says Jessica Schaum, one of the daughters. “EP Henry donated the pavers, we provided all of the aggregates, plants, mulch and soil, and Woodfield Landscaping took care of the installation with help from Distinctive Creations.” The decision to support MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center’s NICU project was also personal for Schaum and her family. Wirtz and Daughters’ contribution was made in honor of a family member, Helena Harrison, who supported MedStar Franklin Square before she passed away suddenly in her 20s. “Our donation helped the hospital, but also honored Helena’s passion,” Schaum says.
Jessica Manns was 34 weeks pregnant and knew something was wrong. It had been a while since she felt her baby move. A visit to labor and delivery that evening confirmed her worst fears: Garrett was gone before he ever had the chance to be born. The team that took care of Manns in the stressful hours that followed was supportive, sensitive and comforting. She wasn’t sure how she would ever repay them for their care.
Two years later, she and her family made a commitment to raise $25,000 over five years to support the opening of the hospital’s new NICU, show their appreciation and honor the memory of her late son. Together with her family, Manns is hosting events and fundraisers, all with a four-leaf clover theme, to achieve their goal.
“The pledge continues to motivate me to make something positive out of the loss of Garrett,” she says. “My baby didn’t get a chance to fight, but many babies do. By raising funds for the new NICU, we are helping to give the tiniest and most fragile patients and their families a place of comfort and healing.”
Room nine in the new NICU is named for Garrett.
For more information, please call 443-777-7050.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237