A Legacy of Caring for Children
Shannon Beauchaine with NICU parent mentor Debbie McDivitt, Ph.D.
Families with premature babies born at CPMC will soon have access to a new parent mentor program being created by generous estate gifts from two local pediatricians. In addition to benefitting the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), these separate gifts from Serene Low, M.D., and her brother Ronald Low, M.D., will also help underwrite three CPMC pediatric conferences.
Part of the Lows’ gifts will be used to train parent mentors, who will help moms and dads with premature babies cope with the stress of having a child in the NICU. “These infants are tiny and may be dealing with extremely complex conditions,” says Terri Slagle, M.D., NICU medical director. “Having a mentor program staffed by parents who know firsthand what it is like will be tremendously helpful to the entire family.”
The program was piloted last year by Debbie McDivitt, Ph.D., who is also the mother of two preemies herself. “The idea is to provide support and encouragement to parents from someone who has actually lived through the fears and concerns of having a baby in the NICU,” says Dr. McDivitt.
Shannon Beauchaine and Ryan McNulty’s son Grayson was born at CPMC three months early and weighed just a little over two pounds. “He had lung problems and he would just stop breathing sometimes,” says Shannon. “It was really traumatic—we thought he was dying. But it was actually just part of being a preemie because he wasn’t fully developed yet. The NICU process can be really trying, so it was comforting having someone like Debbie around who had gone through the same things.”