When the NICU becomes a sanctuary—a grateful family gives back to honor nurses

She loves motorcycles, princesses and superheroes. With a bubbly personality and an infectious smile, Claire Bartlett is a perfectly happy and healthy 3-year-old. Looking at her now, you would never know that she arrived in dramatic fashion and spent the first weeks of her life in the Fairview Ridges Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Claire recently stopped by with her mother and grandmother to thank some of the nurses who cared for her in the NICU.

Claire recently stopped by with her mother and grandmother to thank some of the nurses who cared for her in the NICU.

But her parents certainly remember. And when they think back to that period in their daughter’s life, they remember that they were not alone in caring for Claire.

For the five and a half weeks that my daughter Claire spent in the NICU, I felt so comfortable leaving her with the nursing team,” says Carissa Bartlett, Claire’s mom. “I knew that while she was with them, she would not only be well cared for, but well loved.”

Perfect, but tiny

And Claire needed a little extra love. After Carissa contracted an infection of her uterus and amniotic fluid, doctors delivered Claire via emergency C-section at just 31-weeks. She spent her first 24 hours on a ventilator and would spend the next several weeks in the NICU, gaining weight and strength before heading home. “She was perfect, but tiny,” her parents recall.

With Claire’s two-and-a-half-year-old brother also in need of care, and Claire’s father going through a job transition, the Bartlett family had a lot on their plates. Fortunately for Claire, she had an entire team of nurses to help her and her family focus on her healthy growth.

A sanctuary

“The NICU became our sanctuary. We could go there and just focus on our baby and celebrating her accomplishment and milestones,” says Carissa. But the family didn’t have to celebrate alone. “The nursing staff was just as proud of her as we were!”

Today, Claire is a thriving 3-year-old.

Today, Claire is a thriving 3-year-old.

In an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy for the Bartlett family, nurses treated Claire, as much as possible, like a regular newborn as opposed to a hospital patient. They dressed her daily, took silly photos of her in bunny ears to celebrate Easter, and kept the family informed at each step along the way.

Champions of Care

After nearly six weeks of care, Claire was strong enough to head home. In honor of the nursing team’s exceptional care, Claire’s family made a gift through Fairview Foundation’s Champions of Care program, recognizing the nurses that helped Claire thrive.

The Champions of Care program invites patients to honor a special care team member as a Champion of Care by making a gift in his her or her honor. Champions receive a personal message from their nominators along with a beautiful lapel pin to wear with pride.

“We are just so thankful for the amazing care that Claire received from the entire nursing staff,” says Carissa. “They didn’t just take care of Claire—they took care of our whole family.”