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Helping Parents Cope in the NICU

February 27, 2018
Every day, Kristine Baker, RN, known as Kris, comes in to the GBMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to care for the hospital’s tiniest and most vulnerable patients, premature babies. These infants are living in an environment that they're wholly unprepared for and they need constant care and attention — some are born so sick that they can’t eat or breathe on their own. They are sensitive to light and sound, and their skin may not even be able to tolerate being gently stroked or rubbed.

In the NICU, helping parents cope with their baby's condition is just as important as caring for the baby. No one plans for a child to end up in the NICU, so parents often find themselves unprepared and fearful of the future. Kris works to educate them about their baby's condition and helps them understand how he or she is developing.

Kris has been working in NICUs for the past 12 years and she forms strong bonds with the families of her patients, especially when they are there for extended stays. While this is incredibly fulfilling, it can be difficult when the family is struggling or the baby's health isn't improving as well as everyone had hoped. Kris makes sure to keep a positive focus, celebrating even the smallest of victories. "Being able to sit with families and comfort them is so rewarding," says Kris.

She never hesitates to give hugs or say prayers with a family; it's important to her that she meets every family where they are. One patient's family member described her this way: "She is able to face a distraught mother with just the right amount of empathy and respect for space." Like many NICU nurses, Kris cares so deeply about "her" families in the NICU that she maintains relationships with them well after their babies are healthy enough to go home.

This year, the proceeds from the Father's Day 5K benefit the new NICU unit being built at GBMC! The renovations will allow for increased privacy, more space for equipment, and refrigerated drawers for storing breast milk within patient rooms. Please join Kris and the rest of the NICU team as they run or walk to raise money for GBMC’s tiniest patients on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at the 30th annual Father’s Day 5K and Fun Walk. Click here to register or to support the event!

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