New Program to Help Families With Babies in the NICU

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- When baby is rushed from the delivery room to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the fear a parent feels is overwhelming. That's why one local non-profit is teaming up with a group of hospitals to ease the pain of having a sick newborn.

Seven year old Jason from Odessa has cheated death twice. Born with severe problems, he spent nearly a month on a tiny bed inside a NICU.

His older sister, Emory, was also a NICU baby for about two weeks of her newborn life. Their mother's fears were unbearable.

"[I was] scared, nervous and alone. Something could go wrong while they're on the monitors or you don't know if they'll pull through," mother, Crystal Ortiz, said.

She says you will never know that kind of pain until it happens to you.

"People say, 'I know what you're going through.' Well, it's not necessarily true because they don't know. They don't have a clue," she says.

So she's signing up for the newest venture local non-profit SHARE is putting together. It's teaching volunteers how to get NICU moms and dads through the heartache they cannot escape while their babies are sick.

MCH NICU Transport Coordinator Malynda Nowell says, "There's wires. There's monitors. There's alarms going off and it's really scary for a parent."

MCH's Center for Women and Infants and Odessa Regional Medical Center have joined in with SHARE. NICU families will get access to volunteers' phone numbers so they can call whenever they need to.

Nowell says, "If you talk to other moms, it kind of helps them out and they have that support system where they can share each other's experiences." Ortiz adds, "I can let them know what to do, what to think and what to expect."

Several of these NICU families are exhausted. They can't sleep. They're appetites are gone and fear is all they know. Having a caring voice on the other end of the phone is a small gesture, but more powerful that one might think.

Nowell says, "It would really help them alot to get through the time that they're here until the end, whether it be a week, or months."

The first volunteer session will be held on April 28th from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at MCH's Center for Women and Infants. For more information, call (432) 218-4622.