By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anastasia Puscian and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Radford, NMCSD Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) along with the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) hosted the 27th annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Reunion (NICU) June 12.
The first year of a NICU patient is often the most stressful for both families and the doctors, nurse, corpsman and respiratory therapists who help care for them. Every year the NMCSD NICU and ASYMCA celebrate and pay special tribute to new and former NICU patients during a family and staff reunion.
“The parents really look forward to seeing the staff, particularly the nurses and corpsman who provided life saving care for the babies, sometimes as long as three to four months,” said Capt. Douglas N. Carbine, NICU Medical Director. “It is also very important for the staff to see these babies grow up. It helps them to continue to do the difficult job of NICU care when they can see how well the graduates do. It is a celebration of the astronomical odds some of these babies have overcome.”
Each year the NICU reunion committee creates activities that coincide with a theme; this year’s theme was conquering the NICU jungle. Past and present NICU patients and parents enjoyed activities such as face painting, pony rides, hand print and photo booths, bounce houses and different animal search booths.
Special appearances by the characters from the movie Star Wars greeted guests.
“My favorite character was Bobofat,” said Joshua M. Martin, a former NICU patient and is a three-time attendee. “I have a lot of fun and I get to get dirty a lot.”
More than 400 people attended this year’s reunion. Staff from NMCSD and local ASYMCA branches and service members from all branches comprised the more than 60 volunteers that helped with the reunion.
“They [kids] just have a great time with the prizes, games and characters,” said Melissa Lagerquist, NICU parent. This is the third year she has attended the reunion.
Tri-West Healthcare Alliance and VFW Post 1512 from Lemon Grove helped sponsor the reunion by providing funding for all events and activities along with providing the food and drinks for parents and children to enjoy.