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Letter: Medical Center pros in NICU provide care, compassion
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center registered nurses Jamie Griffith, right, and Ashley Smith-Elliott, hold fraternal twins Luca and Layla Crawford during the Northeast Georgia Medical Center's annual NICU Reunion Sept. 30 in Gainesville. Griffith and Smith both helped care for the Crawford twins while they were in Northeast Georgia Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit. - photo by David Barnes

Over the past two years, our family has been frequent visitors of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, first with twins who spent about 10 days in the NICU, now with triplets who, as of Sept. 29, were on day 137.

There is truth in not being able to appreciate something until experiencing it. Although we have known about the fine reputation of NEGMC, these past four-plus months have brought a new appreciation to what its team does.

September was NICU Awareness Month. What lies beyond those big double doors is a team that works tirelessly to provide quality care for our triplet grandkids. Born at 24 weeks 1 day, to say they are miracles is an understatement. With their low birth weights, their chances of survival were statistically improbable. However, with an incredible medical team working together, we now have three healthy 8-pound babies.

Every time we walk down that hall, we ask ourselves: Will they be better? Have they gained weight? Have their vitals improved? Then we see pictures of hope displayed carefully on the walls, pictures of beautiful children who were once preemies. Our prayers, our dreams are that one day our triplets will make that wall.

If we singled out individuals, we would have to list nearly 100 names. The NICU team has become like family. They know when to encourage us, educate us, caution us and remind us we have hope. Often they saw the pain and hurt in our eyes and seemed to know what to say or what not to say. Drs. Castillo, Cabrera and Coto-Puckett provided steady leadership, professionalism and a guiding purpose of hope. We know many are aware of the quality of care the medical center provides, but the NICU team has brought honor to their profession. The quality of care has been second to none. 

We know people hear about the hospital’s excellent care but we are not certain everyone recognizes how fortunate we are. We would love to give every NICU employee a sack of $100 bills, but at a minimum we want to express our deepest, most humble thanks for their expertise and compassion.

Staff take interest in not only the babies, but the entire family. Nurses, respiratory therapists and nurse practitioners work in unison, decorate rooms, write in journals, make posters and celebrate milestones. Doctors share the truth, but in a compassionate way, delivering news of hope. This roller coaster journey has been everything they said it would be, but it was not until we lived this experience that we could fully grasp its magnitude. 

During our stay, we experienced firsts most parents and grandparents have at home. However, each smile, lifting a head up, etc., has been just as special, for it is not the place but the heart and spirit of the family that really matters. 

Our family has grown, not just in the literal sense, but in the spirit of gratitude. Now, we walk confidently through those doors because we know behind them lies three little miracles and the open arms of our extended NICU family. 

Brad and Laurie Brown

Ryan and Abby Burle

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