By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Cari Brittain and Anna Peck first met at Geisinger Medical Center, after both women were flown by helicopter in the middle of the night to give birth to their baby girls.
Now, a year later, the two families have reunited, along with more than 60 other families, at Geisinger Medical Center’s NICU Reunion.
The reunion is held for families with children treated at Geisinger’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after birth. After being born, the children of these families had to spend additional time being treated, sometimes for life-threatening illnesses, before being allowed to go home.
On average, 600 babies a year are treated at Geisinger’s NICU.
The reunion was held at 2 p.m. at the Pine Barn Inn and included food, speeches from NICU personnel and a chance for families to share their experiences of being NICU parents.
“It’s bringing back memories,” said Brittain of being at the reunion. “Scary ones, but happy at the same time.”
Brittain’s little girl, Courtney, was born after only 26 weeks at 3:56 a.m. March 2, 2012. Peck’s daughter, Adrianna, born at 35 weeks, arrived earlier that morning at 3:20 a.m.
Adrianna was allowed to go home with her family to Mifflintown after only 15 days. However, Courtney stayed in the NICU for eight weeks. She was hooked up to feeding tubes and had daily blood work and needed a heart monitor for several months after being brought home to Dallas, Pennsylvania. Today, though, she is a happy and healthy baby.
“It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come,” said B. Janice Miller, a NICU nurse for the past 26 years. Parents are very appreciative to all the staff they meet at the reunion, she said. “That’s why they’re here, they’re here to thank the doctors and nurses and show off their babies.”
Brian Chaput, who works at Geisinger’s social media department, had his daughter, Audrey, treated at Geisinger’s NICU. Brian’s wife, Kim, gave birth to Audrey after 33 weeks, and the girl had to spend 17 days in the hospital with a feeding tube. “The staff at the NICU was awesome,” said Kim. “They were just amazing. We knew she was going to be OK because of the staff there.”
“It’s nice to reconnect with all the people who helped us,” said Brian. Having a newborn at the NICU makes a parent very emotionally disconnected. “It’s nice to be able to come back and say thank you,” he said.