PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Hundreds of children and family members gathered today at the annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) reunion of The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.
The Children’s Hospital’s annual NICU reunion is an opportunity for families to reconnect with the nurses, doctors and team members who cared for them throughout their journey, as well as with the other families whom they may have grown close with.
The Children’s Hospital offers the area’s only Level III NICU. More than 1,000 babies are admitted to the NICU each year, with about 80 percent born prematurely, or between two and 16 weeks early. The average length of stay in the NICU is 18 days.
Dressed in costume to celebrate this year’s “Candy Land” theme, guests of the Saturday event enjoyed games, story time, crafts and snacks, as well as indoor and outdoor play areas.
For many event volunteers, such as the Vignes family, The Children’s Hospital’s annual NICU reunion is not only a celebration. It is also an opportunity to give back.
Chloe Vignes delivered her son, Ripley, in an emergency C-section two months before her due date. Ripley was born weighing only 2 lbs. 10 oz., 15 inches long. Ripley stayed in the NICU for 28 days before he was discharged home.
“Our experience at Sacred Heart was remarkable, and it’s hard to imagine what we would have done without the NICU,” said Chloe. “They just welcomed us with loving arms. They are still a part of our family today. That’s why we do all we can to support the current NICU families who are in the same situation that we were. Through events such as the annual reunion, we hope to reassure other NICU families that -- thanks to this amazing facility -- there is hope for their child.”
Chloe and her husband, Beau, have served on the planning committees for the Sacred Heart Foundation’s annual Preemie Cup and The Children’s Hospital’s annual NICU reunion. Today, their son Ripley is a healthy and happy kindergarten student at Gulf Breeze Elementary School.
The Children’s Hospital maintains two neonatal critical care transport ambulances for the transfer of premature and critically ill newborns from other hospitals across Northwest Florida to The Children’s Hospital.
The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is a 117-bed facility that serves as the only children’s hospital in Northwest Florida. The Children’s Hospital offers a wide range of services to meet all of a child’s medical needs, from a pediatric emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit to pediatric intensive care, cancer care, rehabilitation and a medical staff of more than 120 board-certified physicians across 28 pediatric specialties. The Children’s Hospital provides quality, compassionate care to children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. For more information about the services available at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, visit www.sacred-heart.org/childrenshospital.