"In the mid-70s, mechanical ventilation was just becoming available in neonatal intensive care units. Had the Newborn Center not been here, my probability of survival could have been very low."
Rachel George feels right at home in her job in Regional One Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
She should. On November 11, 1975, she was born there.
The Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center was established in 1968, but just before Rachel’s birth it moved to its present location. “I was born in the same exact unit where I work today,” she says.
Rachel was born several weeks prematurely with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), a potentially life-threatening respiratory obstruction that occurs when the fetus has inhaled waste products. “In the mid-70s,” Rachel says, “mechanical ventilation was just becoming available in neonatal intensive care units. Had the Newborn Center not been here, my probability of survival could have been very low.”
When Rachel attended nursing school, she found herself back where she started life. “I did my labor and delivery clinical here at Regional One Health, my well baby nursing clinical here, and we toured the NICU. I was fascinated by it, but it was also very intimidating.”
Upon graduation, Rachel called Kelley Smith, RN, the NICU Nurse Manager, and asked if they were hiring. On September 6, 2005, she started working at Regional One Health and has been here ever since.
In 2007, she was promoted to Patient Care Coordinator. By that time, she had begun to notice that babies had a better chance of surviving when they got their mother’s breast milk. In 2011 she completed her certification as a lactation consultant, receiving her international certification the following year.
Rachel also went back to school to finish her BSN. In 2013, she became the NICU’s Clinical Nurse Educator, in charge of staff development, certifications, and training for new nurses.
“We’re the largest unit in the hospital in terms of nursing staff,” she says. “We have close to 120 nurses in the NICU.”
“There are several nurses I work beside every day who were here when I was born in 1975. So, that’s pretty amazing. I think it speaks well of this unit and of Regional One Health as a whole.”
Rachel doesn’t just give back with her hard work. “I've been giving to the Regional One Health Foundation since I was first employed here,” she says. “I see firsthand how the money we give enhances the care we provide.”
Giving to Regional One Health Foundation allows for the purchase of developmental equipment that the NICU wouldn't be able to obtain otherwise. Developmental care is a necessity in providing NICU patients optimal outcomes that benefit them throughout their lives. Donate now!