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Finding Out It’s More Than Just A Job

Graduating college in the middle of a global pandemic made finding a job somewhat impossible. It is even more difficult when you try to be somewhat picky and not just accept any 9-5 desk job. Coming out of school I knew I wanted to do something where I felt like I was making a difference. A job I was excited to wake up for every day and felt accomplished. When I found the job posting for “Foundation Development Assistant” for Ascension Via Christi I knew this was the perfect job for me. My name is Emma, I am a recent graduate from Wichita State University with a degree in Strategic Communication. I love to be outdoors and travel with my puppy Willow, my friends and my family.  I’ll be bringing stories to you about what it’s like to experience this position and those we serve throughout the next year.

On December 22, 2020 I had the opportunity to experience the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital for the first time. A normal duty of the Children’s Miracle Network Assistant position is to give tours of our units serving kids to potential partners and families. Due to us being in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic however, this is not currently an option. My first hands-on experience seeing the patients and work that my job advocates for was the day Santa came to the NICU. 

When you walk into the NICU, the lights are dim, noises low, and there’s a certain comforting feeling. At times however, this is anything but a comforting time for parents as their newborn is needing extra medical attention instead of being home post-birth. Our NICU unit has 29 different “rooms” for babies to be watched and treated. On the day I got to visit there were 14 babies ranging from 1 pound to 10 pounds, all different ages. I watched as nurses swaddled them, took vitals, fed them with a machine, even carried and comforted them. These caregivers looked less of nurses and more of mothers the way they cared for these babies even though they are not theirs. They know the situation is only temporary and yet they put their all into making sure these babies have the best fighting chance at survival. 

Santa walked around and stood near the bassinets, being sure to follow COVID guidelines, “My First Christmas” onesies laid next to the infants and with parental consent we took pictures to commemorate the first Christmas these babies experienced! Depending on the condition, some twins were put into the same bassinet for the photo, others were simply within the isolettes, and one set of twins was even held in their mothers arms. Once we had made it around to all of the babies, my heart was aching realizing the pain these parents must go through having to be separated from their newborns, having to rely on faith and the incredible work of nurses and doctors to help their babies. 

One of the awesome things Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) has been able to fund is the addition of live cameras at every bed of the NICU so parents and family can watch their child live when they are not physically able to be with them. Another incredible thing that topped off my experience was meeting a mother who gave birth to twins, unfortunately lost one of the babies, the other will be in the NICU for an extended amount of time, who was able to stay in a nearby hotel as she was from out of town, on the expense of CMN. 

With every social media post, every call to a corporate sponsor, every time I ask others for a contribution, it all has a greater purpose now. We are able to help a mother stay near her child as she goes through an incredibly difficult time. Can you imagine giving birth and then being told you have to leave your 2 pound baby at the hospital but you are dismissed? I certainly couldn’t. I am excited for this opportunity to help advocate for sick and injured Kansas kids and I hope, after following along with my first exposure to our patients, you too will want to continue to help. Please, if you are able, donate today.

Emma Hickey

Children’s Miracle Network Assistant