Special Care Nursery Reunion

09/24/14

Winchester Hospital Hosts 24th Annual Special Care Nursery Reunion

With her third child on the way, Della Harris expected this pregnancy to be similar to her first two. Her two sons were both healthy, a little late and a good weight. SCN Reunion

There was no reason for Harris to think this baby would be any different.

But in the middle of July, Harris went into labor - six weeks before her due date. And on July 17, 2013, Talia was born, barely weighing four pounds.

"She was just so small," Harris said. "She looked so frail, I wasn't prepared for that."

Then minutes after she was born, Talia momentarily stopped breathing.

"That was terrifying," Harris said. "You don't expect something like that to happen."

Talia spent the first nine days of her life in Winchester Hospital’s Level II B Special Care Nursery.

“We are very thankful for the wonderful care we received at Winchester Hospital,” said Harris. “The nurses and staff taught us so much about preparing to take care of a premature baby."

The Harris family, who traveled from Buffalo, N.Y., along with more than 200 families attended the 24th annual Special Care Nursery reunion on Sunday, Sept. 14 at Winchester Hospital.

"The staff there meant so much to us," said Harris. "When we got the invitation in the mail, we were so excited. We had to go back. We wanted to show them how well Talia is doing and how big she is."

The event featured games, live children’s music and refreshments. Whether the babies spent days, weeks or months in the unit, each family had a unique and special story.

“The staff was amazing," said Wakefield resident Shannon Sawyer, whose son Owen was in the Special Care Nursery for a month. "I can't thank them enough. They walked you through everything and made sure you understood all that was going on with your child."

Winchester Hospital’s Special Care Nursery provides care for premature and full-term babies who need extra assistance after birth. Of the more than 300 newborns admitted to the 16-bed facility each year, about 80 percent are born at Winchester Hospital, with the remaining 20 percent transferred from Boston hospitals. Since its inception in 1988, Winchester Hospital’s Special Care Nursery has cared for  more than 7,000 babies who are low birth weight, born prematurely, unable to feed on their own or simply need additional care. It is one of only a few Level II B hospitals in the state that offers continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to assist infants with respiratory distress.

"It was difficult having a baby in the Special Care Nursery," said Ashley Peters of Tewksbury, whose daughter Jade had to spend some time there after she was born. "But the nurses, doctors and staff are so friendly; it's like a big family."

Flanked by poster boards featuring photographs of smiling children of all ages, families at the Special Care Nursery reunion took photographs and videos as physicians and nurses embraced child after child, marveling at how far they’ve come.

"It was great to see all the nurses and doctors and to say 'thank you' for this beautiful baby," Harris said.

About Winchester Hospital

Winchester Hospital is the first hospital in Massachusetts to earn Magnet recognition, the American Nurses Association’s highest honor for nursing excellence, three times. As the northwest suburban Boston area’s leading provider of comprehensive health care services, the 229-bed facility provides care in general, bariatric and vascular surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, oncology, gastroenterology, rehabilitation, radiation oncology, pain management, obstetrics/gynecology and a Level IIB Special Care Nursery. Winchester Hospital has clinical affiliations with several nationally recognized hospitals in the region, including Boston Children’s Hospital, Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. To learn more, visit www.winchesterhospital.org.

Expectant parents are invited to tour Winchester Hospital’s Mother Baby Unit every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Tours leave the lobby of the  lobby of the main campus at 41 Highland Avenue in Winchester at 6 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. Registration is  required. To register, visit winchesterhospital.org/events.