News Release: Emory Healthcare

Dec. 10,  2008

Graduates of the Special Care Nurseries at Emory Crawford Long Hospital Celebrate

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Doctors, nurses and parents alike all call them "miracle babies" - babies who overcome the odds of severe prematurity and illness, and survive.

The staff in the Special Care Nurseries at Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH) cares for many of the hospital's smallest patients. Some are there for just a week or two. Others are there for months. And during their stay, special bonds are formed and many precious milestones are shared between the families and their caretakers.

Each December, doctors, nurses and staff in the Special Care Nurseries come together with the "preemie graduates" and their families to celebrate life and good health at the hospital's annual "Preemie Party." It's a time for grateful family members to once again thank those who cared for their babies when they were so fragile and sick. And it's a time for the hospital staff to see how the little ones are growing -- many now toddlers, school-aged children, teenagers and some in their 20s.

Details for the Preemie Party:

WHAT:
26th Annual Holiday Preemie Party

WHEN:
Friday, Dec. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.

WHERE:
Glenn Building Auditorium at Emory Crawford Long Hospital
550 Peachtree St., NE Atlanta
(The Glenn Building is located beside the Medical Office Tower and adjoins the hospital's main parking deck.)

This is the 26th anniversary of the annual Preemie Party, and there are many reasons to celebrate.

"This annual party gives us the opportunity to bond with 'our babies' and their families again and look back at the many accomplishments they've achieved," says Ann Critz, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine and chief of pediatrics and medical director of Nurseries, Emory Crawford Long Hospital. "It's inspiring to see these children developing and thriving now, when they were once so small and medically fragile. This gathering is a very special and sentimental time for me each year."
   
Critz has cared for hundreds of preemies during her 28-year tenure at Emory Crawford Long Hospital. The driving force behind a state-of-the-art Level III special care nursery is no simple task, but her skill, knowledge and gentle manner allow her to do it with ease. (Level III nurseries provide the widest variety of advanced care available for premature and sick newborns.)

"We love to see the children every year as they grow and develop," says Susan Horner, RN, nurse in the Special Care Nurseries and Preemie Party coordinator. "And it's such a pleasure to reconnect with the family members who spent so many hours in our nurseries learning to care for their preemies."

All babies born at Emory Crawford Long Hospital, including preemies, experience an ever-growing trend of what's called "family-centered care", a concept that encourages parents to assist in caring for, rocking, holding and feeding their babies daily. Despite all of the tubes and monitors needed for the preemies, this family-centered care is vital.

"This technique is extremely important in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)," says Critz. "Bonding with even the smallest infants in the early stages is critical for the baby's development. We've found the more parents are involved with the care of their preemies, the better the babies thrive. Having the opportunity to see these children and their parents return to our hospital for a party, and not because they are sick, is a real reason to celebrate."

ECLH has been a leader in neonatal care for as far back as the 1940's. The present NICU opened in 1981 and currently serves as part of the Emory Regional Perinatal Center, one of six regional perinatal centers in the state to care for high-risk infants.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Web: http://emoryhealthsciences.org

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