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Shay Miller, a neonatal nurse at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, is a finalist for the national NICU Heroes Award. She’s spent 18 years working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and believes NICU nursing is unique because many premature infants stay for extended periods of time, allowing nurse caregivers to become really close to the families.
“I love taking care of these precious gifts of life,” Shay told the parenting blog Hand to Hold. “It has made me grow as a person. There is nothing better than being a NICU nurse.”
Miller was nominated for the NICU Heroes Award by parent Kayla Granger for the outstanding care of her son, Leo, who was born at 23 weeks, weighing just 1 lb. 7 oz. The Granger family lived some 90 minutes away from the hospital, and, because of the reassuring care Shay gave them, they began to view her as part of their family.
“She shows every baby and family the utmost respect and care and makes a terrifying time seem not so scary,” mom Kayla said in an interview with the parenting blog preemiebabies101.com. “Shay changed my life. I believe because of her, my son is alive, and a healthy 15 month old. We will never forget her.”
Miller is one of six national finalists for the NICU Heroes Award. The award is presented by Hand to Hold and Mead Johnson Nutrition, as well as Preemie Babies101, a parenting blog founded in 2009 by the mother of several preemie babies. Families from 21 U.S. states nominated neonatal nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals who helped make a difference for their preterm or medically fragile newborns. The six 2015 finalists have careers which represent more than 140 years of combined experience in neonatal health.
“Our 2015 NICU Heroes Award finalists demonstrate a lifelong professional and personal commitment to the well-being of babies and families in their care,” said Kelli Kelley, founder of Hand to Hold, and a mother of two children born premature. “They also understand that having a baby in the NICU affects the whole family. When neonatal professionals balance the health care needs for babies with the emotional care of their families, they make a positive impact on babies and families that lasts a lifetime.”
Nominees will receive a certificate of appreciation and a copy of the nominating essay, which shares personal stories about how their work made a difference for the children and families in their care. Finalists were chosen by an independent panel of NICU health care professionals and NICU parents from around the country. A second independent panel of judges will select two winners to be announced on August 3, 2015.
Winners will receive: A trophy and certificate, presented at the winner’s hospital; a $2,500 donation in their name to the pediatric healthcare charity of their choice; and a one-year subscription to the Hand to Hold Resource Library, designed to provide education to parents during a NICU stay, for the winner’s hospital.
Located in Mobile, Alabama, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is one of only five free-standing hospitals in the U.S. dedicated to exclusively caring for the needs of children and women. The hospital -- the leader in births in the area with more than 2,700 deliveries annually -- offers comprehensive services for women, including digital mammography, special medical care for high risk pregnancies, private labor and delivery suites promoting family-centered care and a Mother/Baby unit with private rooms for newly delivered mothers.
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