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Thursday, November 05, 2009 - CECH/Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Recognized Nationally for Support of NICU Parents

Award honors tireless efforts to enhance family support

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - The birth of a new baby is normally a joyous occasion for an expecting family. On some occasions, however, a new addition to a family can mean countless hours in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and in the worst cases, the loss of a beloved little one. Each week, more than 500 babies in Florida are born too early. Each week more than 500 parents stand by worried as they watch their tiny infants be admitted into the NICU. Thanks to Broward Health and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of Broward County (HMHB) these families have somewhere to turn during these difficult times of uncertainty.

The NICU Parent Support Group, coordinated through collaboration between Chris Evert Children’s Hospital (CECH) at Broward General Medical Center (BGMC) and HMHB, was formed in 2005 through a grant from March of Dimes South Florida.  The group has proven to be a source of strength for hundreds of families whose babies are cared for in the NICU.

The NICU Parent Support Group at CECH recently received notice that it will receive The Becky Hatfield Family Support Award at the 2009 National Perinatal Association Awards. This national award aims to honor an individual or group who has provided substantial support to families dealing with the emotional aspects of high-risk maternal and childhood health.
Elyse Claprood, coordinator of the Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center at CECH and HBHM board member, will accept the award on behalf of the group at the National Perinatal Association Awards luncheon in Fort Worth, Texas, next week. 

"I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Group,” Claprood said. “It is a pleasure to be involved with Broward General and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, and to provide this critical service for families traumatized that their baby is a NICU patient.”

The NICU Parent Support group creates a safe place where parents can go to express their feelings and concerns as well as receive health education about the medical treatment their baby is receiving.

Additionally, facilitators of the Group have created an opportunity for parents to creatively express their emotions through scrapbooking. This unique outlet allows families to more comfortably share their experiences with others.

Through the Group, parents create lasting friendships and connections with families who also have challenging circumstances surrounding their babies’ struggles.

Inspired by the participating families, Claprood; Kathy Dunbar, executive director of HMHB; and Mary Osuch, CECH NICU manager, have worked extensively to secure funding and support for the Group to continue beyond the original grant. A combination of dedicated staff and contributions from former CECH NICU Director, Dr. Brian Udell and his wife, Jacqueline, The Wachovia Foundation, BGMC, and Publix will allow the Group to continue as a highly successful support system for parents.

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County, Inc. is a not-for-profit, community-based 501 (c) (3) organization whose mission is to reduce infant deaths by providing resources and education to pregnant women, parents and their families. Since 1987, HMHB of Broward County has provided access to prenatal care, education, advocacy and public awareness for all families.

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world-class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information visit www.BrowardHealth.org.