The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

October 3, 2013

Mentoring program: NICU veterans aid new parents

DANVILLE — Parents of newborn babies expect to be able to take their child home as soon as possible. When that doesn’t happen, it can be a very scary experience.

Parents of babies that have to spend their first several weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit are faced with questions most don’t even think about.

To help combat this, Geisinger is offering to pair these new mothers and fathers up with more experienced parents who can offer some valuable insight.

“A NICU baby may have a colostomy and the new mother may have several questions, such as ‘How many colostomy bags do you use a day?’, ‘Can I take my baby to the grocery store?’, ‘What type of adhesive works the best?’, ” said Kelly Hammaker, patient and family centered care coordinator at Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. “With the network of NICU parents, all these questions can be answered by someone who has faced the same struggles before.”

Geisinger is one of only four hospitals in the state of Pennsylvania to offer such a service.

Their program differs from similar hospital programs that connect parents in that Geisinger’s pulls from a pool of local parents who all have children that have gone through the Janet Weis NICU.

“Having someone who has been through this NICU will be much more specific and helpful to the family,” said Phoebe Beckley, the March of Dimes NICU family support coordinator for Geisinger Medical Center.

What kicked off interest in providing a parent support program was the NICU family reunion, held March of this past year. At that event, 30 families who had children that went through the NICU were in attendance and 22 decided to go through the program and become mentors. “We had an overwhelming response at the reunion,” Hammaker said. Many of the families said they wished such a program had existed when they had children in the NICU.

Its stressful to have a child put through the NICU so shortly after they are born, Beckley said. “That immediate separation is very scary. … Unless you’ve been through it, you can’t understand that.”

Tara Lorson, of Jersey Shore, has been dealing with that separation for just short of 200 days, when her daughter, Harper, was born. Now six-months old, Harper still has not left Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and is receiving treatment related to premature birth and possessing an unbalanced translocation of chromosomes.

Lorson makes the trip every day to visit her daughter. “Interstate 80 is my home,” she said.

She and her husband, Nicholas, are still unsure what long-term health effects Harper will endure due to the unique chromosome issues she has. “We hadn’t been able to find anyone with similar conditions to what Harper has,” Lorson said.

However, the peer-to-peer group has been able to help her by connecting her with a parent whose child has similar complications to Harper, which include requiring a feeding tube and a tracheotomy.

In addition to telling Lorson how to prepare her house for when Harper arrives home, the mentor has helped Lorson and her husband find support groups at other hospitals where Harper may require treatment.

“It’s been truly a blessing to have parents who are going through a similar thing,” Lorson said. “Just to have someone who can relate to that as well is comforting.”

1
Text Only
The Danville News
  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville teachers to continue strike

    DANVILLE – Officials of the Danville Area School District and Danville Education Association confirmed Friday the teachers’ strike will continue through April 25.

    April 18, 2014

  • Vo-tech helping family

    ESPY – The Columbia Montour AVTS is sponsoring a benefit spaghetti dinner for the Dissinger family from 4 to 7 p.m. April 25 at 5050 Sweppenheiser Drive. Three members of the family died in a Rush Township fire April 4.

    April 18, 2014

  • picket18a.jpg DEA rep: District’s last offer lower

    DANVILLE — The most recent salary and benefits proposal by the Danville school board to the Danville Education Association came in lower than previous offers, according to DEA labor representative Mark McDade.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • xcdh18a.jpg Kin marks newborn's advances through illness

    LIBERTY TWP. — Lahlynn Bingaman smiles, is very alert and sleeps in a crib.
    She’s been at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since being born there two months ago.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • xdrugawa18c.jpg Drug battle begins with public education

    DANVILLE – Rep. Kurt Masser, local police and school district leaders discussed Wednesday what community members can expect to learn at an upcoming drug awareness program.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danville Arts Council fundraiser nets nearly $2,000

    DANVILLE — Last week’s inaugural fundraiser for the Danville Arts Council was a “tremendous success,” according to council chairman Scott Richardson.

    April 18, 2014

  • xeggs18ac.jpg Volunteers color 90 dozen eggs for big day

    DANVILLE — Fire company volunteers colored 1,080 eggs or 90 dozen eggs Wednesday in preparation for the annual Goodwill Hose Company Easter egg hunt Saturday.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Danville Sports