From Portland, Maine to Las Vegas, Nevada, nearly a dozen Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICUs) that care for sick and premature babies will hold reunions of their graduates at this year’s March of Dimes Foundation’s signature fundraising event, March for Babies.
Several HCA hospitals, The University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital (UAB) and many others are great examples of how hospitals can work together with the March of Dimes to provide care and support for families during their baby’s time in the NICU, according to Japonica Boler, a March of Dimes volunteer whose son was born premature at UAB. This year marks the 3rd annual NICU Reunion at the March for Babies event in Birmingham, which takes place on Saturday, April 29.
“My son Cayden was born prematurely at 26 weeks, and spent months in the NICU at UAB, unable to eat or breathe on his own,” Mrs. Boler recalls. “Today, Cayden is 3 years old and doing much better. We love to come to the NICU reunion and participate in March for Babies each year. We get to give back to an amazing organization and see all of the wonderful staff that took great care of our son. We can’t wait to walk!”
“For many years, HCA and our hospitals in communities across the country have supported the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies and moms, including working together to help ensure moms deliver after 39 weeks,” said Bruce Moore, HCA’s president - service line and operations integration. “Last year, caregivers in our 89 NICUs provided vital medical care to approximately 33,000 babies, and during these difficult times lifelong bonds often are developed. Our NICU Reunions are a wonderful way for our caregivers, our NICU graduates and their families to celebrate some of our success stories.”
Other NICU reunions will take place at March for Babies walks: April 22 in Fort Worth, Texas with HCA’s Medical City Arlington; April 29 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and in Jenson Beach, Florida with HCA’s Lawnwood Regional Medical Center; April 30 in Portland, Maine with The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center; May 6 in St. Cloud, Minnesota with St. Cloud Hospital and in Lafayette, Louisiana with HCA’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital; May 7, in Danville, Pennsylvania with Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital; May 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada with Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican; and June 3 in Lebanon, New Hampshire at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
Nearly 500 March for Babies events will take place all across the United States, with most occurring this spring. Thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies across the country get involved. National sponsors include Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, and HCA, as well as regional sponsor Publix. For more information and to register, visit marchforbabies.org.
Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the leading cause of death of babies in the U.S. About 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely each year, and premature birth and its consequences are the leading cause of death in children under age five. Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including chronic lung disease, vision and hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, and neurodevelopmental disabilities.
The March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program offers information and comfort to families during the NICU hospitalization of their newborn, during the transition home, and in the event of a newborn death. It also provides professional education for NICU staff, and promotes neonatal family-centered care in NICUs. NICU Family Support is currently in more than 100 hospitals across the country and touches more than 70,000 families each year.
HCA’s collaboration with the March of Dimes and support of March for Babies will nearly double the presence of the Foundation’s NICU Family Support program in hospitals across the country this year.
“It just makes sense to hold our NICU reunions at March for Babies because these families have been helped by both the March of Dimes and UAB Hospital,” says Elicia Jacob, DPN, RN, PHCNS-BC, director of nursing services at UAB’s Women & Infants Center. “Families come from all across the region because of the support they received from the March of Dimes and the caregivers at our hospital. We’re like one big family.”