A “Jungle Adventure” awaited the many graduates of North-Bay Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and their families Saturday, Aug. 21, as the annual reunion celebrated the unit’s silver anniversary. More than 200 people filled the NorthBay Healthcare Administrative Center in Green Valley to enjoy games, crafts and a barbecue while renewing friendships with parents and hospital staff.
The oldest “graduate” was 21-year-old Jonathan Hughes of Vacaville, who hasn’t missed a reunion, while the youngest was 3-month-old Salman Madraswala of Vallejo. Parents of both sons were grateful that the NICU gave their babies a chance at life. “I have no doubt that the NICU saved Jonathan’s life,” his mother Barbara said. “The NICU nurses became like family and we look forward to seeing them every year.”
NICU Medical Director Richard Bell, M.D., beamed as he visited with many former patients. “This is why we do what we do,” he said. “At 2 a.m., when you’re working hard to save a baby’s life, these are the memories that pull you through—all of these precious children.”
The children were treated to face painting, jungle tattoos, games of hopscotch, bean bag toss and a cake walk and crafts, such as making artful hats and animal masks. The NorthBay Guild cooked up and served barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs. The afternoon concluded with a quiet story book reading.
Opened in 1985, the NICU cares for more than 300 premature or sick babies each year. The reunion is an opportunity for families to visit with NICU physicians and staff to celebrate the healthy growth of their children.