Baby love: Newborns flourish thanks to community kindness
Seriously ill newborns have complex care needs. At Queen of the Valley Hospital’s 40-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a specially trained team works non-stop to provide the best care possible for these fragile and tiny patients. Volunteer Martha Soria, along with the S. Mark Taper Foundation and Golden State Foods, demonstrate their support for this vulnerable population through their time, gifts and grants.
Martha Soria: The heart of a Cuddler
Martha Soria, Queen of the Valley Hospital (QVH) volunteer, decided two years ago to share the precious gift of her time with babies in the NICU. Once a week for three hours, Martha is a Cuddler, one of a dozen volunteers who hold, feed, soothe and talk softly to stable newborns.
The Cuddler program was created in 2017 with the help of retired NICU nurse Diane Witherow. Diane knew firsthand the importance of NICU babies being held, rocked and cuddled. Human touch is an infant’s first language, an innate need that can’t be replaced by technology. For babies who are born under less than ideal circumstances and whisked away to the NICU out of necessity, the bonding and positive touch from parents and close family members is interrupted. Instead, they experience an environment of tests, procedures, sounds and interventions interpreted as negative stimuli. This is where the role of the Cuddler exhibits Emanate Health’s commitment to safe and compassionate care for the most vulnerable in our community.
Martha feels a unique connection to the NICU parents and can empathize, as she and her husband Juan experienced the premature birth of one of their five children. “I give my heart to the mothers,” she explains. “I know they are worried about their babies, and I understand. That’s why my goal is to connect, to hold hands with everyone as a community.”
Now retired after 35 years with LAUSD, but accustomed to a full life as a wife, mother, grandmother and educator, Martha also serves on the QVH Auxiliary Board as chair of the annual fundraising boutique. It is clear Martha is enthusiastic about her volunteer responsibilities: “I love it—everyone does. We make a difference and feel so appreciated!”
S. Mark Taper Foundation
A generous award from the S. Mark Taper Foundation facilitated the acquisition of two new CritiCool® systems designed to induce therapeutic hypothermia in critically ill newborns. Therapeutic hypothermia aids in the treatment of oxygen deprivation, and the timing of the treatment is crucial. Beginning at birth, there is only a six-hour window to initiate the cooling process before possible brain damage occurs. Nancy Simmons, RN, NICU clinical practice coordinator, says the CritiCool® equipment has given them the ability to give the highest quality care. She shares her team’s appreciation: “We are eternally grateful to the S. Mark Taper Foundation.”
Thank you, Golden State Foods!
One of the values of Golden State Foods Corporation, based in the City of Industry, is “to treat others like you want to be treated.” Fortunately, for children and babies, Golden State Foods is true to its principles. With funds from their employee giving campaign, they have supported incubators, respirators, a radiometer and, in 2018, a fetal monitor for use in all deliveries. Thank you, Golden State Foods!
“The Cuddlers are angels and are so passionate about their volunteer roles.” - Tiffany Ramirez, corporate director of volunteer services