Families Reunite with NICU Staff at Baptist Health South Miami Hospital
More than 100 guests attended the 2023 Baptist Health South Miami Hospital NICU Alumni Reunion on Saturday, February 18 at the hospital’s Victor E. Clarke Center. The event, which was supported by Baptist Health Foundation, honored “graduates” of the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) from the past five years.
Lucas Santos, 13 months, enjoys the reunion festivities. He was born at 28 weeks of gestation and stayed in the NICU for two months.
The reunion brought the NICU staff and past patients together to celebrate the graduates’ growing achievements and recognize the nurses and physicians who cared for them, often for several months. Sponsored by Galleria Farms, a leading grower, importer and distributor of premium fresh-cut flowers, the fun-filled celebration featured music, games, refreshments and interactive children’s activities. Grateful families also shared moving stories about their NICU experiences.
“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to reunite South Miami Hospital NICU children and families with the physicians and nurses who cared for them through a very challenging time,” said Alex Villoch, CEO of Baptist Health Foundation. “Our donors and corporate philanthropy partners are very invested in supporting the hospital’s NICU, as many of them have been through the same experience themselves.
"Galleria Farms supports Baptist Hospital Foundation’s South Miami Hospital NICU Alumni Reunion because there is no one more important to us than the lives of our most vulnerable population — children!” added Yolanda Valencia, VP of Human Resources and Corporate Philanthropy for Galleria Farms. “Being at the reunion of children born before their time, was proof that miracles do happen, and Baptist Health is 100% dedicated to providing the best outcome for those babies.”
In addition to the NICU families and hospital staff, the event was attended by Baptist Health Foundation donors, grateful patients, Baptist Health executives and community leaders. Speakers included Bill Duquette, CEO of South Miami Hospital; Jorge E. Perez, M.D., medical director of neonatal services; and Christina Mesa, director of nursing services.
Donations made at the event benefited the South Miami Hospital NICU Fund, which supports resources for NICU newborns and families at the not-for-profit hospital. These resources include web cameras, high-tech incubators and monitors, safe-sleep swaddling sacks and a donor breast milk program.
“We are so grateful to all the NICU families at the reunion who expressed appreciation and support for our physicians and nurses,” said Bill Duquette, South Miami Hospital CEO. “Our staff members go above and beyond to care not only for these critically ill newborns, but also their parents, who are experiencing one of the most difficult times in their lives. Donations to the NICU Fund help provide state-of-the-art equipment and other resources that benefit our caregivers as well as our patients.”
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at South Miami Hospital is one of the largest in South Florida and the first in the state to earn Joint Commission certification for prematurity. South Miami Hospital’s Level III NICU has 15 beds in private and semi-private rooms, designed with special lighting and noise-reduction surfaces that promote healing for babies and comfortable, quiet environments for family members. South Miami Hospital’s Level II NICU contains 47 beds, making it one of the largest units in South Florida. Leading the way in exceptional patient care and thanks to the generosity of the hospital’s supporters, all patient stations are equipped with Giraffe OmniBed Carestations and NICView cameras. In addition, donor breast milk is available to all patients in need.