SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 750 Navy and Marine Corps families reunited with hospital staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) and the Armed Services Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
"This is a fantastic event, a celebration bringing all the neonatal care staff and families together to rekindle friendships made while staying in neonatal care," said Capt. Jose A. Acosta, commanding officer, NMCSD.
Each day a child's life in the NICU holds many challenges. Many families have to leave their newborn in the care of the NICU while returning to work or while they care for other family members at home. Camaraderie and friendships grow each day learning how to cope with all that is entailed in keeping these young children healthy.
Jamie Cole gave birth to twins Exavier and Journey Cole in March, each weighing just over one pound. She's been living at the Fisher House, a nonprofit that provides a safe, close place to stay for military families.
"The Fisher House also allows us to talk to other parents going through the same thing," said Cole. "We are blessed the military funds our stay, meals, and laundry so we can spend more time with our babies."
Alongside Fisher House, the YMCA is ready to help families. Events like the annual NICU reunion bring characters such as Storm Troopers, Disney princesses, Sea World's "Otter," Hula dancers and more, but are used to remind families and staff how much they need each other along the road to recovery.
"This event gives all current babies and 'graduates' along with their families an opportunity to share their journey and individual milestones with their doctors and nurses that have cared for them," said Natasha Castro, program manager for the San Diego YMCA.
"Seeing the children's progress and how much they've blossomed since coming out of the NICU is amazing," she said.
Visit Balboa Hospital on Facebook.com/NMCSD, on Twitter.com/NMC_SD and on Instagram at Instagram/NMC_SD.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.