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Cherishing memories made over course of NICU career

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In 1979, I graduated from high school. That fall I entered St. Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing, as a few of my Great-Aunts did before me.

After 2 quarters at YSU, my class entered the School of Nursing located across the street from the hospital on Belmont Ave. Since that spring of 1980, I have made the trek from home to Belmont Ave.

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My name has changed, my starting point from home has changed, my position has changed from student nurse to nurse assistant, to RN on adult units, to NICU nurse in 1987. The one constant has been the building I entered to care for my patients.

On April 7, that all changed. With all the planning and preparation for this big move, there was no time to reflect on the finality of an era – over 100 years of birthing and caring for babies within that structure.

Many nurses commented on how they had been born there, as well as their parents before them, and their children, too. They’d been born, given birth, and assisted others in the birthing process and care of newborns, in that hospital.

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Recently, we reminisced about all the changes in the care of our very sick and preemie babies. So many of us have been in the NICU so long that we’ve seen advances in neonatal medicine that are comparative to going from radio to black and white television to our flat-screened, plasma, surround-sound entertainment centers.

You have to take pause. Sigh. Wipe a tear. And, now, move on.

We moved 12 babies on move day. I followed the last one out the door and down the hall. I watched the elevator door close and the transport team wave good-bye.

As Diane Pitts and I “turn out the lights” and close the door to the NICU for the last time, I pause to reflect. Despite the melancholy, the sense of excitement overwhelms.

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I feel privileged everyday to work with the fantastic, highly skilled and caring group that is the NICU of Akron Children’s in the Mahoning Valley.

I cherish our past, where we have come from, and how far we have come. But, I, along side each and every nurse, neonatologist, respiratory therapist, unit clerk and all of our support staff, am a part of history.

We continue to serve the Valley and surrounding areas with the utmost dedication.

In 1976 the NICU opened in St. Elizabeth’s on Belmont Ave. In 2014, it relocates to Boardman, taking with it, its history and the opportunity to proudly represent and continue the legacy of excellence in neonatal intensive care.

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