Celebrating Life,Friendship and Personal Bonds at Pennsylvania Hospital’s 2013 Intensive CareNursery Reunion

ICN-groupThe careers of health careproviders are some of the most stressful, yet most rewarding. Talk aboutrunning the full range of emotions and experiences. Every day in hospitalsaround the world, nurses, physicians and therapists are on the front lines ofhealth care, witnessing the intense highs of healing patients and sending themhome, and the lows of caring for patients whose lives cannot be saved. At thetop of those highs, health care workers sometimes have the opportunity to seepatients beat seemingly insurmountable odds and go on to lead happy, productivelives. Plus, they have the satisfaction of knowing they played a important rolein making that happen. Nowhere is this more apparent in an intensive carenursery.

Shown here in front ofPennsylvania Hospital’s original, historic Pine Building, are just some of thenearly 400 former patients and family members that attended the Hospital’s 2013Intensive Care Nursery on October 5, 2013.

On Saturday, October 5, nearly 400 people – 130 different families – came to Pennsylvania Hospital for its bi-annual Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) reunion. Families were invited to come back to PAH to celebrate and reconnect with staff and other families with whom they forged deep bonds during their baby’s stay in the ICN. This year’s reunion theme was, “Never underestimate the size of miracles!“ 

To see a video from the ICN reunion, click here.

Held outdoors in the Hospital’s ElmGarden, it was a fall and Halloween-themed festival full of fun activities forchildren and adults alike: a bubble-blowing and painting table, pumpkindecorating, face painting, a photo booth and scrap-booking table, along withlive music, free food (including barbeque and ice cream - always a kiddiefave), fundraising raffles, and silent auction to benefit the ICN.

The event was marked by a paradeof super, SUV-like strollers toting adorable, multiple mini-passengers, lots ofhugs, and laughter as staff reunited with their former patients. “It is sowonderful to be able to see how well our patients are doing and how big they’vegrown,” said Jeffrey S. Gerdes, MD, chair, Section of Newborn Pediatrics, “Although we routinely getphotos and cards from families - especially around the holidays - showing ushow well everyone is fairing, nothing beats seeing our former little patientsin person.”

The most babies per year in thecity of Philadelphia – nearly 5,000 – are delivered at PAH, which has been atthe forefront of neonatal services for over half a century. Approximately 40percent of the infants born at PAH are from high-risk pregnancies and abouthalf of those babies require advanced neonatal care. Many are born at very lowbirth weights, as low as just one pound – small enough to wear diapers barelylarger than tea bags. These special babies require high-tech care as they learnto breathe, grow and gain weight. They receive close monitoring in high-techisolettes, during stays that sometimes exceed several months until babies aredeveloped and well enough to go home. The ICN staff and patient families oftenform close bonds during this time.

National data show that PAHconsistently ranks among the best centers in the US for outcomes of thesepreterm infants. The Hospital’s Level III ICN currently houses 45 bassinets,including intensive care and transitional care sections. The Level III nursery– the highest level of medical care available – is staffed by physicians fromThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and nurses who specialize ininfant intensive care.

“Our special little patientshave all had to fight so hard to make their way into the world. It is sogratifying and heartwarming to see them running around and having a ball,”added Dr. Gerdes.