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These NICU nurses know exactly how their patients’ families feel


November 15, 2018

With a complete staff of highly specialized neonatologists, nurses, and other dedicated providers, Kettering Medical Center’s Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is one of the only facilities of its kind in the Greater Dayton region. Perhaps the best part of the Kettering Medical Center NICU is not just the advanced technology or expertise, but the commitment of the people who care for the babies.

On that staff of dedicated medical professionals are several mothers whose own children were treated in the NICU at Kettering Medical Center. They understand the feelings and experiences of their patients’ families firsthand. Jennifer Martin and Lauren Harrison are two such nurses.

Jennifer Martin has worked in the NICU for nearly five years. Her son, Bradley, was born at just over 37 weeks and was treated in the NICU immediately after birth because of respiratory distress. For her, communication and staying involved with her new baby’s care were of utmost importance.

“I really like that they let the new parents be a part of the baby’s care, even for simple things like changing diapers,” she says. “Mother Baby and the NICU are on the same floor as well, so I was near my baby the whole time, and that helps because you feel closer to your newborn.” It was even more comforting to know that the nurses were accessible.

Fortunately, her baby boy was able to go home after only three days of treatment, and on the same day as Jennifer. Today, he is nearly five years old, happy and healthy, thanks to the dedication of the people in the NICU. She says they are all incredibly passionate about what they do. It’s not just a job to them, and Jennifer isn’t the only one who feels that way.

Lauren Harrison started working in labor and delivery at Kettering Medical Center right after nursing school. She says a unique series of events led her to both become a nurse in the NICU and eventually have children who were treated there.

“I worked in Labor and Delivery for about six months, but after having a major surgery, I was put on a lifting restriction, so I couldn’t work there anymore,” she says. “My manager thought working in the NICU would be a great position for me, since the patients are much smaller in size, and I wouldn’t be doing any heavy lifting.”

Lauren shadowed in the NICU and found it a bit overwhelming – at least at first. But now, she says, “Labor and delivery were what I always thought I wanted to do, but after working in the NICU, I can’t picture doing anything else.”

Her story doesn’t end with a job change, though. Lauren experienced the NICU with both of her daughters,  Layla, who is now three years old, and Wren, just eight months.

Both Jennifer and Lauren spoke highly of their overall experience as families in the NICU, and how well the staff works with the families, reassuring them that their child is in the best possible hands.

Parents are kept up-to-date on the care plan, informed of any necessary changes, and are involved as much as possible. The care team meets up and goes door-to-door in a daily “rounding” session. Private rooms, complete with their own bathrooms, and a warm, calming atmosphere help new moms going through a stressful and scary time to feel more comfortable.

Speaking as a mom who has gone through the NICU with her own children, Lauren says, “You won’t find a better group of people to give care to your little one anywhere else. Your child will be in the best hands that they can possibly be in, and everyone goes above and beyond – not just for the babies, but for the parents.”

Jennifer echoed that sentiment. “Now that I work there, the nurses who actually took care of my son are my colleagues and friends,” she says. “I am very proud to work with them.”

On Sunday, December 9, from 2-4 p.m., Southview Medical Center will host a free baby fair to give expectant parents a firsthand look at our birthing facilities. The event will provide the opportunity to learn more about Kettering Health Network’s maternity services, including Kettering Medical Center’s Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The event is free, but registration is requested. Click here to learn more or to register for the event.