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Children's Health

Exceptional NICU nurses earn high marks for caring for both babies and parents

Shortly after Alison and Robert Brennan’s newborn had her second checkup, her pediatrician called. Little Sophia’s bilirubin level was 26 mg/dL — more than double what it was when she was discharged. 

Bilirubin is naturally created as red blood cells break down. If the liver isn’t removing it from the bloodstream, jaundice results and can lead to serious complications if not treated quickly.

The Brennans made the 40-minute trip back to North Shore because they didn’t want their daughter to be anywhere else. Sophia was placed under phototherapy lights in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for three days. 

Through the ordeal, the Brennans, who had only a few friends in the area, were struck by the community that quickly formed around them.

“They told me, ‘We will do this with you.’”

“The doctors throughout Northwell Health are typically amazing,” says Alison, “but what sets the NICU apart in my experience is the nursing care — not just the care they took of Sophia, but what they did for us as parents.

quotation mark We didn’t have a ‘village’ to support us when our daughter was in the NICU. Those nurses become the community that takes care of your child when you can’t, and you remember it for the rest of your life.
Alison Brennan

The nurses and lactation consultant spent hours with her in the hospital and on the phone after Sophia was discharged. “They told me, ‘We will do this with you,’” Alison says. 

Award-winning care

North Shore’s NICU received the gold Beacon award in 2017 from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

“This is an incredible achievement,” said Alessandro Bellucci, MD, executive director of North Shore. “Our NICU staff has been working in a place built in the 1970s. But despite that, we have such exceptional people, they’ve been recognized with this prestigious award.”

Now, donors are coming together with the hospital to renovate the NICU.

A real estate organization Alison is part of — Long Island Real Estate Group — is supporting the renovations. “[We are] a networking group with a philanthropic mission,” says Alison. “The North Shore NICU project aligns with our values; we are passionate about projects that help children and the community.”

The North Shore University Hospital Auxiliary made a $2 million commitment over 10 years yet has donated more than $600,000 in the first 2 years.

Bertram Steinman also donated $250,000 toward the renovations. “I felt it was a great way to elevate what the hospital does,” says Bertram.

Dr. Bellucci adds, “Our NICU is a place of tiny patients and huge miracles.”

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