Games, face painting and a police K-9 demonstration were just part of the fun at the Aug. 22 celebration of the 23rd annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) party at the NorthBay Healthcare Administration Center in Green Valley.
“The reunion is a chance for NICU physicians and staff to visit with former patients and families to see how the children have grown,” says NICU Unit Clerk Janelle Chenoweth. “We look forward to this party every year.”
Organized by Chenoweth and NICU Nurse Megan King, R.N., the party, which drew about 200 guests, including NICU graduates and their families, had a “Safety First” theme. Fairfield’s emergency responders all participated, giving the children and their families a close-up look at a fire engine, ambulance and police car.
A major attraction was a police K-9 demonstration. Fairfield Police Officer and K-9 handler Kevin Carella put his German shepherd, Cero, through his paces and then the gentle dog allowed all of the children to pet him. K-9 trainer Corporal Troy Freeman and Officer Dave Neal helped with the demonstration.
Falcon Ambulance EMTs Josh Thoming and Jennifer Johnson gave children a tour through their two critical care transport ambulances. The Fairfield Fire Department was represented by Capt. Warren Ducioame, Engineer Ted Collins and Firefighter Rian Lathrop who let the kids sit in the driver’ seat.
NorthBay Guild volunteers helped staff the games, the food court and an ice cream parlor.
Neonatologist Steven Gwiazdowski, M.D., represented the NICU physicians, visiting with many of the children he delivered or cared for while they were in the NICU.
Angela Ware’s daughter, Amberle Geliberte, was delivered earlier this year by Dr. Gwiazdowski and spent two months in the NICU. “It was a tough time for us, but we loved the staff,” Ware says. “They were wonderful.”
NorthBay Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a 16-bed, Level 2 facility, which means it can care for all but babies in the most critical of health. Opened in 1985 and enlarged in 1992, the NICU cares for about 180 to 200 babies a year.