Parents of Former Children’s Memorial Hermann Patients Pay it Forward
One by one, the parents put on holiday hats and readied themselves to meet with families who are spending the holidays at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
Each of these parents had been there before.
Almost four years ago, Meghann Andrew’s daughter, Elizabeth, had been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 90 days. Iris Figueroa’s twins, Iris and Geraldine, had been in that same NICU for 70 days while physicians from McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) oversaw their care.
The unit, the halls and the waiting areas – this was all familiar territory for Andrew, Figueroa and the other parents, including Stephen and Victoria Rodriquez, Ashanti Ayoub, Crystal Duffy and Kerchalyn Mayhorn, who are part of a unique parent advisory council. They understood the fear and uncertainty of having a sick baby in the hospital. And they knew the families in the hospital now needed support.
The main mission of the parent advisory council is to partner with clinicians and quality improvement professionals at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital NICU and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth to improve the delivery of care. On Sunday, Dec. 19, their mission extended to spreading hope and holiday cheer to families with children in the NICU. They call it Parent to Parent, an event organized in part by Madelene Ottosen, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor at UTHealth School of Nursing and a co-investigator at the UTHealth Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality & Safety.
“I want to pay it forward and let these parents know they are not alone,” Figueroa said.
The parent advisory council members delivered cookies and healthy snacks to current residents at Ronald McDonald House in Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. They offered words of assurance and advice on finding a primary pediatrician once their babies graduate from the NICU and are well enough to go home from the hospital.
Parent to parent, there were tears. There was laughter. And there was kindness, comfort and joy.