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Adventist Health Lodi Memorial NICU: Spotlights a Special Graduation

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Adventist Health Lodi Memorial honored some very special graduates recently. This time, it wasn’t new doctors or nurses they celebrated, but the lives of premature babies who “graduated” from the medical center’s new neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. Donning tiny caps and gowns, seven of Lodi’s NICU babies were cradled in their mom’s or dad’s arms as they walked down the aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive their tiny diplomas.

“It was sweet and cute, but also very special,” said Sarah Wiebe, who walked through a crowd of oohing and awing guests with her daughter, Norah. “It’s nice to have something positive come from a scary experience.”

Local Care
Adventist Health Lodi Memorial’s new Level II NICU opened in 2018 and allows mothers and babies to stay close to home without having to be transferred out of the area for specialty care. The NICU team of UC Davis Health specialists and Adventist Health Lodi Memorial nurses and staff cares for premature infants who need  extra support. 

The Wiebe family had an unusual NICU experience that made Sarah Weibe relieved to have a NICU in Lodi. Norah was born at full term on Jan. 1, 2019, and was the first baby girl to be delivered at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial Medical Center that New Year’s Day. 

But after seven days at home, their perfect little girl sent her parents into a panic. Sarah Wiebe was nursing her infant when Norah stopped breathing. “I gave her rescue breaths,” she said, adding that she’s not sure how she even knew to begin breathing for her baby. “I just panicked, and I think instinct took over.”

Quick Response
Rushed back to the hospital, Norah was once again made a first as she was admitted as Lodi’s first NICU patient. There, Nora had round-the-clock care for three days. The constant care was the comfort Sarah didn’t realize she’d need. “Any time we would leave to change or clean up, we would come back to a nurse sitting by her bed,” Sarah Wiebe said. “It was such a relief to sleep for an hour. I can’t say enough about the care.”

While she was in the NICU, doctors determined that Norah has a small hole in her heart, although it is expected to heal as she grows. It’s been several months, and baby Norah is at home and thriving. She is continuing to woo her mother, father and two big siblings with her squishy cheeks and wide eyes.

At the NICU graduation, mothers and fathers found comfort in sharing similar NICU stories with each other. It was encouraging for mothers such as Hieu Singh to hear that so many other mothers had already gone through the similar experiences in Lodi with their premature babies.

Singh’s son, Apollo, was born three weeks early. His early arrival wasn’t a problem, and he was expected to go home, but as the days passed, his blood sugar continued to drop. Each time he was tested, they were disappointed to find out he’d need to stay longer in the NICU. The Singhs were in the NICU for ten days, and although home is where they wanted to be, Lodi’s NICU was their other first choice. “Their care was so excellent; they’re so compassionate. I can’t imagine going anywhere else with my future children,” Singh said. “They just felt like family. You can feel that they really care.” 

New Level of Service
Since July 2018, UC Davis Health has collaborated with Adventist Health Lodi Memorial to offer an expanded array of pediatric inpatient and outpatient services for NICU, labor and delivery, emergency room and general inpatient services. This partnership has brought a Level II NICU to Lodi, where premature infants receive their care from UC Davis Health specialists placed in Lodi. The new NICU has greatly increased the level of care available closer to patients’ homes, and it has decreased the need for transfers to UC “Our goal has always been to keep moms and babies together. Receiving our licensing for the Level II NICU has allowed us not only to keep babies who would have previously been transferred, we have also been able to bring them back from a higher level of care. We want to celebrate them. I’m incredibly proud,” said Maternal-Child Services Director Valerie Stump.

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Written by: Adventist Health