Last week (November 3) a group of us from Humboldt went on a tour of the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Tufts Medical Center.  We met up with members from the March for Babies organization, as well as the head of the NICU, Dr. Davis, and Heather, the liaison between the hospital and March for Babies who focuses on working with and supporting the families who come through.  TUFTS has room to care for up to 41 babies at once, and are the only NICU in the region that never closes (or refuses to take new babies after reaching capacity).  When you first walk through the doors, you enter the “hall of hope” where there are pictures and blurbs of children who started out in the NICU and are now leading happy, healthy lives.  This helps creates a peaceful and positive setting for what you are about to encounter. It is disturbingly expensive to care for a baby here.  The average baby has about $200,000 of equipment supporting them at any given time – this includes, but is not limited to, the incubator, heart monitor, oxygen regulator, and all sorts of cords and tubes.  Additionally, by the time the baby leaves the NICU, s/he has probably utilized over $1,000,000 worth of equipment! You don’t hear crying babies like you would expect. It is a very calm and tranquil environment.  Each of the 8 sections are well spaced-out.  For the most part, each of the babies have blankets covering their incubators to keep out the light, one of the essentials to developing more quickly, as is being in an environment conducive to sleep, so keeping out drama and noise is huge.     In addition to the staff and set-up in place to care for the babies, there is plenty of support and educational training for the families.  There are rooms available for families to sleep in in order to stay close to their babies, parent hours similar to support groups, training with various specialists, and a very supportive, caring staff to help out in all sorts of situations. After completing the tour, and seeing the amount of care and equipment that goes into caring for a pre-mature baby, it becomes that much clearer how important the research and contributions that March of Dimes provides is.  The survival rate of a pre-mature baby, as well as the capabilities of pre-mature babies to develop normally, has continued to increase due to the ongoing research and advancement of medical technology.  March of Dimes is one of the largest contributors to pre-and-post natal care in the world. Jim Sullivan, president at Humboldt ‘s role as revenue chair within the March for Babies organization is very important.  Within his corporate and social networks, Jim helps open up opportunities for other companies to get involved with the organization.  Whether that is donating time, money, services rendered, or forming their own team, the more people are aware of March for Babies, and the important research they do, the more successful they will continue to be.

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