Office Of Public Affairs

March of Dimes Partners With Parent Support Program

Dec 28, 2007 11:00 AM

Twenty-two weeks into her pregnancy, Renee Butler developed hypertension, which within days turned into pre eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition. She was sent to the U, where doctors determined she needed to have the baby within 24 hours. On Aug. 9, 2006, her daughter, Zoey, was born, weighing 1 pound 5 ounces.

The next day, Zoey had open heart surgery and for the remainder of her 114-day stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NBICU ), she was on oxygen, a ventilator, and a heart monitor. Butler, and hundreds of families—this year alone, the NBICU will care for nearly 600 babies—have found
comfort and support from the Parent to Parent Program, a support group for families with babies in the NBICU.

For more than 30 years, Parent to Parent has helped families navigate through the trauma of having a baby in the NBICU . Butler and her husband, Derek, attended the weekly Parent Night where they met other parents and families who had survived the same experience. Support from those parents alleviated some of the Butler’s fears and offered hope. With Zoey now a healthy toddler, the Butlers have become Parent to Parent volunteers.

"We provide mostly emotional and educational support to families,” said Becky Hatfield, director and founder of Parent to Parent. The group also offers crib gifts, a newsletter, a weekly luncheon for mothers on bed rest, and social events for past nb icu families.

In November, the program received additional support from the March of Dimes, which launched its national NBICU Family Support Program at the hospital, one of only 55 sites nationwide. “Together, these two groups will more completely meet the needs of our parents and families, especially those with language barriers,” said Jerry King, M.D., NBICU medical director.

“The hospital does incredible work every day to care for sick babies and their families,” said Amy Hansen, director of the March of Dimes Utah Chapter, noting in particular the care the U gives to Spanish-speaking, low-income families, and some of the most critically ill babies. “We
want to support their efforts.”

The NBICU Family Support program will be led by Rachel Hixson, a NBICU parent and a Parent to Parent volunteer for the past seven years.

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