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For children, like two-year-old Laila Piccoli of Goodyear, who begin their lives in a Nursery Intensive Care Unit (NyICU), their future is uncertain. From birth on, every feat, no matter the magnitude, is a step in the right direction. Over the course of a stay in St. Joseph’s NyICU, a bond is formed between the clinical care team and the newborns, along with their families. Last Saturday, the Piccoli family joined other former St. Joseph’s NyICU patient and their families at Kiwanis Park in Tempe for the hospital’s 2017 reunion picnic.
Laila is just one of hundreds who attended the event. Leila was born prematurely in 2014, weighing just one pound, six ounces and stayed in the NyICU at St. Joseph’s for 115 days. Despite her fragile entrance into the world and some minor feeding issues, Leila is now thriving and the Piccoli family-of-four attended the reunion for the first time.
Laila’s mother, Paula Piccoli, is thrilled about where the once tiny newborn stands now. Piccoli’s was overjoyed while watching Laila and her 11-year-old sister play with other NyICU graduates at the picnic.
“The nurses and staff at St. Joseph’s are like our second family,” Piccoli said. “They became a big part of our lives while taking care of our daughter during her stay. It’s great to see everybody in one place."
This meaningful event is one that the NyICU nurses look forward to, as well.
“The babies that were once under our care at their weakest points are now here running around and playing. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that we’ve been part of their lives,” Moniki Pogue, RN, clinical manager of St. Joseph’s NyICU, said during the picnic.
St. Joseph’s NyICU is a Level III Perinatal Center which serves as the first home for nearly 800 ill and premature babies each year. St. Joseph’s holds the special reunion picnic to reconnect NyICU graduates and their families with the nurses who were there for them during the toughest of times. The celebratory event also serves as an opportunity for families to spend time with those involved in their journey from delivery room to NyICU, and from the NyICU to the place they now call home.