Isaac Lincoln Soppe was born premature, 27 weeks gestation and spent 95 days at Saint John’s Health Center in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He weighed two and half pounds, healthy aside from being born prematurely.

It was the work efforts by the NICU that helped deliver Isaac. The NICU at St. John’s is considered a safe environment by many of the patients and their families. Neonatologist work closely with the health centers maternal-fetal specialist, pediatricians, pediatric respiratory therapist, and nurses to make sure there is constant care.

Being in the NICU is no walk in the park, especially for mother Carrie Reichenbach Soppe. As Carrie was leaving the hospital without a baby in her arms the only image running through her mind was Isaac in an incubator, wondering how many IVs and IV attempts he endured because of the preemie veins being incredible small.

“Each day it became clear how skilled and passionate the doctors, nurses, RTs and staff are in St. John’s NICU.  It takes a truly special person to care for babies who are struggling to live, and to also care for the parents,” Carrie said. “They answered my questions patiently and thoroughly every single time. They guided me through all those tubes and wires as well as my fear when I was finally allowed to hold, change and feed my tiny baby.”

Every time Carrie left the hospital she felt reassurance and comfort knowing her son was in great hands.

Carrie attended last month’s NICU reunion of ‘graduates.’ Kids and their families dressed as super heroes for the event. The children who were once fighting for their life, spending weeks in an incubator were now laughing and playing together. The children and their families reunited with the physicians, nurses and other medical care members that took part in the survival journey.

“It was a joyous event, my heart was full, looking at all of those little miracle children running around.” She went on to say, “Knowing that many, maybe most would not be alive if they hadn’t received top notch care in the NICU is really mind blowing when you take it in.”

Saint John’s NICU is an 18 bed, Level III facility, carrying the latest equipment and providing the best strategies of care that are available today for treating critically ill newborns.

Pari Ghafari, RN in the NICU, takes care of many infants, and has been doing this for thirty-four years. She said, “I have helped deliver a baby as early as twenty-three weeks, weighing 600 grams. Right away we put them in an isolated room along with an IV and multiple machines. It is such a great feeling to hear their cry, and know they are going to be okay. That is really why all us nurses do this.”

After a premature baby is born they are placed in bassinets, other wise known as Giraffes. The Giraffe reduces the need to transfer infants and can be converted into an incubator.

Carrie is thankful to not see her son in a Giraffe anymore, but in her arms. She commends the NICU staff for proving such intensive care, Isaac is now two years old, smiling and living a healthy life.

Marina Andalon