Nov. 17, 2009| The success of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be told with statistics, but numbers can’t convey the hope that was put on display today.
At a ceremony in the UAMS Medical Center, families with children who were treated in the UAMS NICU helped unveil a photographic display called the Wall of Hope. The Wall of Hope comprises 27 photographs featuring healthy, happy children who once were patients at the UAMS NICU.
The photos were taken by Crystal Goss of Conway, the mother of two former NICU patients and March of Dimes volunteer. The display was funded by the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program. Allyson Honda, a UAMS NICU nurse, and Kristin Powell, a March of Dimes NICU Family Support specialist, assisted with coordination of the project.
“I know the anxiety that these parents and families are experiencing,” Goss said at today’s ceremony, held on National Prematurity Awareness Day. “They need to know that there’s hope, and what better way to give them hope than to show them these beautiful, healthy survivors.”
Goss became involved with the March of Dimes after finding invaluable resources on its Web site and learning of the family-centered care program being implemented in partnership with UAMS. She has chosen to use her talents and experiences by serving as a volunteer photographer for the March of Dimes NICU Family Support photography project. She and her husband are also serving as the central Arkansas ambassador family speaking on behalf of the March of Dimes throughout central Arkansas.
Other families whose children are featured in the photographs attended the event and recounted their experiences.
Kristi Palmer M.D., UAMS NICU medical director, commended the work of Goss, Honda, Powell and the March of Dimes, and said that patient families aren’t the only people affected by the images.
“These photographs are inspirational reminders to all the doctors, nurses and other caregivers in the NICU that their work truly makes a difference,” Palmer said. “I’m proud of our NICU and the people who work so hard to make it one of the best NICUs for a premature newborn to receive treatment.”
UAMS’ NICU is the only one in the state partnering with the March of Dimes to offer educational and support services to families during their NICU stay.
The UAMS NICU ranks ahead of the national average with survival rates surpassing 90 percent for very low birth weight infants (weighing less than two pounds, three ounces).
Before opening its new all-private-rooms hospital earlier this year, UAMS was already well regarded for its NICU. Today, UAMS’ NICU can place each baby in a private room, reducing stress by controlling the noise level and physical stimuli. Parents also are able to stay with their newborns for as many days, nights or weeks as they choose.