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PeaceHealth reunites NICU nurses and families in 40th annual celebration

The hospital holds the reunion every year to give families and nurses the opportunity to reconnect and share in each other's company months, years, and even decades after they spent time together in the NICU.

Posted: Jul 21, 2019 5:23 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Hundreds of families who once had babies in the NICU or were there themselves have come back to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart to reunite with the nurses that once cared for them at the hospital's 40th annual NICU reunion.

The hospital holds the reunion every year to give families and nurses the opportunity to reconnect and share in eachother's company months, years, and even decades after they spent time together in the NICU.

A long-time NICU nurse Maureen Beringer says it is beyond rewarding to reconnect with the families whose babies she cared for year after year.

"It is heart breaking when you first see a baby so sick and so young," said Beringer. "But it is so joyful to see them healthy and their families are smiling and that's what the whole NICU reuinion is about."

Kayla Guerrero can remember when her, now 10 year-old, son Mateo was in the NICU.

"It was scary," said Guerrero. "I think I felt every emotion at that time. You're elated that you have this new baby that you've been waiting nine-months to see and then for it to turn from joy to fear of the unknown. I was mad, I was sad, I was scared, I was happy. It was a roller-coaster."

The celebration is just as rewarding for the nurses as it is for the families of the NICU graduates.

"You meet these people in a time of crisis and then they come back to the reunion and they're all happy. Their kids are well and playful and every year it's just wonderful to get to see joy in their face," continued Beringer.

Some families consider these nurses a part of their family and come back every year to thank them.

"It's a celebration," said Christine Garvin. "To me, all these people saved my daughter's life and they kept us healthy in the process and so I come back to see them and to say thank you."

One thing remains the same among all the families who we spoke with and that's that they could not have gotten through those tough times without the support of the staff at RiverBend.

"{My son has} exceeded every odd stacked against him," said Guerrero. "He was given a 30% chance to live when he was first born and diagnosed with his condition and he has exceeded every expectation. He is 10 years old, going into the fifth grade. He is happy, active... we couldn't ask for more."

40 years strong and the hospital says it does not plan on stopping the annual celebration any time soon.

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