NICU Nurse Forms Unforgettable Bonds With Families

When it comes to caring for the region’s tiniest and sickest babies, the days can be stressful, but they are also very rewarding. “That’s what makes this job so amazing,” explains newborn intensive care patient care supervisor, Gretchen Mitchey, RN.

Gretchen has worked in ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU) since 1998.

“Before the NICU, I worked in the postpartum unit,” she says. “I really liked taking care of the babies and wanted to do more.”

Today, as a patient care supervisor, she helps oversee the staffing and day-to-day operations of the NICU, while still caring for sick infants and providing support to their families.

“You get really attached to these babies and their families,” says Gretchen.

She recalls one of her most memorable stories as a NICU nurse that took place 10 years ago when she was taking care of a very sick baby boy. She grew very close to the boy and his mother. So much so that when it came for the mother to say goodbye her son, she asked Gretchen — and no one else — to sit with her at his bedside.

“It’s a sad story, but it is one I will always remember,” says Gretchen, who even named her second son after the boy.

Connections like this are not uncommon in the NICU. Many members of the staff build relationships with the little patients they care for along with their families. That is why Gretchen and her team enjoy hosting Toledo Children’s Hospital’s annual NICU Reunion.

“The best thing about working in the NICU is getting to see babies improve and grow, and then go home with their parents,” explains Gretchen.

But most of the time, she and the other members of the care team lose contact with the families. The NICU Reunion is an opportunity for them to reconnect with those families and see how their children are doing.

“We’re very interested in their lives,” explains Gretchen. “We look forward to this every year.”

This year’s NICU Reunion takes place Sunday, September 20 from 1 – 3 p.m. on the campus of Toledo Children’s Hospital. It includes crafts, refreshments and children’s entertainment. To learn more, visit the Facebook event page.