Twins Charlotte and Amelia Clark sleep quietly, when WTAJ visited the DRMC NICU, despite a hungry preemie crying nearby. He was quickly taken care of by a nurse.
Fourteen of the 16 beds were occupied. A staff of 30 registered nurses and one licensed practice nurse keeps watch over the babies and tends to their medical needs.
R.N. Megan Shermer was a patient, 33 years ago, at one point during her young life, weighing only 1 pound, 8 ounces.
"I was here for three months after I was born," she says. "I was born February 26th and I was supposed to be born May 26th and that's when I went home in May."
The NICU looked very different then. It started out as a 12-by-12 foot room with a one big glass window and an area for a nurse. Since then it's expanded and advanced..
Dr. Mohamed Hassan, a neo-natologist, has been the medical director of the NICU for 15 years. He's focused on adding new technology, equipment and practices.
He says, "over the last decade, there were almost revolutionary changes in the neo-natology, more technology, more ventilators. Now we have great outcomes. In the older days, there was a lot of complications from these babies, like bleeding in the head, some problems with the eyes, and chronic lung diseases,
Doctors now know some of these problems can now be prevented in babies by treating the mother with steroids before delivery.
Former preemie Megan has two healthy children of her own---neither arrived early. But she still has special feelings for the NICU says, "it's rewarding to see the babies and they get better and they get to go home and it's nice."
Obviously----all the advances over the years have meant many lives saved at this NICU and others across the country.
Unfortunately, years ago, they rarely saw addicted babies, but now two to three are in the NICU at a time. Nurses say however, they work with the mothers before birth and can better prepare for the babies' potential problems.
This year, as DRMC marks the 35th anniversary of the NICU, it is inviting all of its former patients, known as NICU graduates, to gather for a celebration, "NICU: 35 Years of Rocking!"
The celebration will be held at the DuBois City Memorial Park from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25. All ages of graduates and their families are invited to share a picnic lunch, play games and visit.
Also, there will be a blood drive in honor of the NICU's anniversary from noon to 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 9, at DRMC West in the Central Resource Center. Many of the NICU babies need blood products.
And Ride for New Life will be held Saturday, Aug. 11. Registration is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the DuBois Lion's Club Sky Lodge, DuBois. All proceeds benefit the NICU.