To celebrate its first year of caring for our community's tiniest patients, the team at Flagler Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) invited local families to its first annual NICU reunion. Since its opening in August of 2011, more than 130 newborns have received care in the level II NICU.
From the little ones who went home from the NICU just 4 weeks ago, all the way to the now toddling first baby admitted more than one year ago, babies celebrated the day together with their parents, siblings, doctors and nurses. The family-centered event featured face-painting, crafts and refreshments.
"It is such a joyful occasion to celebrate how far all of the babies have come since we cared for them as newborns in the NICU," said Vanessa Lenoir, NICU nurse manager. "It is wonderful to see the babies outside of the hospital setting, thriving and growing into healthy happy children.
Flagler Hospital invested more than $3.2 million in the construction of the seven bed unit, which features some of the world's most advanced technology. The unit is staffed by board-certified neonatologists and specially trained nurses who tend infants 24 hours a day. The NICU has the ability to keep infants 32 weeks and greater with their families, right here in St. Johns County, rather than transporting them to Jacksonville. Previously, many moms and families of such infants had difficulty managing the responsibilities of caring for other children at home while also traveling the distance to Jacksonville to spend time with their newborn during what is an already difficult time. Flagler Hospital submitted its initial application in September 2008 after a thorough analysis of the community need.
"The focus of the Flagler Hospital NICU is to meet the needs of the entire family in a supportive environment and reflects our ongoing commitment is to offer best-in-class programs and services that meet the changing needs of our community," commented Flagler Hospital CEO Joe Gordy.