Jordan and I attended the mock-up of Akron Children’s new neonatal intensive care unit last month. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact I should have prepared ourselves for a longer stay with more snacks and distractions for the little man.
As usual he was a little distraction himself, however it appeared some of the staff needed a little sidetrack from being there for 2 ½ days and facing 2 ½ more. As we walked through he brought out his little trick of pointing at someone only to have a finger pointed back as he quickly snatched their finger and giggled with that two toothy grin.
The layout of the new floor is amazing. The cardboard layout gave a small glimpse of the size of what our new NICU will look like. The twin rooms were set up for the staff to break into two groups to discuss what they felt would best suit the staff and families.
Some discussions consisted of where a sink should be placed to allow counter space, whether a sliding door should be placed in between two rooms or a regular door with blinds. Another question was about where the linens and trash should be placed to decrease the amount of people who enter the room.
Lots of questions we don’t typically think about when we’re sitting and watching our little ones as they’re being treated. I enjoyed watching the brainstorming take place. They were also gracious enough to ask what I thought as a parent.
The building staff asked where, as a parent, would I want to be if I was going to be discussing “news” about my child. Personally I felt a small conference room would be fine, and if a procedure would need to be done in our room, I would want to sit with Randy in the small common area close by.
After a break we took a pretend tour of what we would see as we entered the floor from the elevator. We considered what kind of greeting we would have and what would be promoted as a warm welcome scene. What would the kids’ area look like? Where should the bathrooms go? (Jordan spoke up that he would like to see kiddy potties that are lower to the ground.)
We also talked about the laundry room and refrigerators that allow families to store their food that they brought from home.
My thoughts wandered to the feeling we have when we enter the hospital’s Reinberger Family Center. I feel a sense of safety and security. It’s a place that allows my shoulders to relax a little and causes me to sigh if it’s ok.
My mind was zigzagging throughout the next night thinking of more ideas I would love to share.
However, although buildings and facilities can help make you feel like you’re in a great place, what makes me feel like a million bucks are the people. It’s awesome to have a nurse or doctor see you after being away for 16 months and offer encouragement at how well your child looks.
It’s the people who make the experience.
As we entered the NICU reunion last month, we were greeted by the nurse who gave us the encouragement and knowledge about caring for our little peanut. She assisted in teaching Jordan and me about how to get the best nutrition possible through nursing.
As we sat next to his bedside she kept tabs on how Jordan was feeling through watching his monitors and taking care of his roommate. We gazed in awe as she effortlessly transferred him from his isolette to our chest for kangaroo care. There aren’t enough words to express what Betty means to our family.
As we wrapped up our day, we were able to briefly catch up with Jordan’s first girlfriend, Dr. Protain. During our stay, when she made her rounds she would approach Jordan by stating, “there’s my boyfriend.”
I can’t tell you the warmth we felt as she interacted with him 16 months later. It is these types of experiences that makes Akron Children’s Hospital sparkle. I treasure the fact that we’ve had the honor of meeting so many angels through our experience, but it’s comforting to know these heroes put their capes on daily.
Read more about Megs’ and Randy’s journey of raising a child with spina bifida through her blog, Labor of Love.