Christmas came early for dozens of area kids and families last week as Houston Methodist West Hospital celebrated its first ever Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) reunion.
More than 100 friends, family and former NICU patients visited the hospital to reunite with their caregivers and enjoy a few holiday festivities. For some, it had only been a few months since their babies had been in the NICU. For others it had been years, including one girl who was born the first year the Childbirth Center was open.
“Some of our NICU babies are with us for weeks, so we can’t help but get attached to them and their families” said Tracy Cimo, interim director of the Childbirth Center. “It was so special getting to spend some time with them and see just how much they’ve grown.”
Attendees were treated to lunch along with several fun and kid-friendly activities. A few special appearances made the event especially memorable for those who came. Santa Claus stopped by to greet the families, along with his elf and a couple of popular princess characters. Both children and adults were particularly thrilled when Astros player Marwin Gonzales stopped by to meet families and sign autographs, along with Orbit, the Astros mascot.
Still, the highlight of the event was the reunion between families and the nurses that has taken care of their little ones. The lines to visit and hug the nurses were often longer than the line to meet Santa.
“The event was so much fun for everyone,” Cimo said. “As they left the event, families and employees alike were already asking when the next one will be.”
The Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at West has a NICU to care for babies born at 28 weeks or later, along with 26 private childbirth rooms. It offers prenatal education, childbirth classes and tours, and has a neonatologist and pediatric support team managed in partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital. Visit houstonmethodist.org/west for more information.