A celebration of life: 50 years of NICU
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Current and former doctors, nurses, patients and their families came together at the Central Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Marshfield on June 23 to celebrate life, as Marshfield Children’s Hospital commemorated the 50th anniversary of its neo-natal intensive care unit, or NICU.
Marshfield Medical Center Womens-and-Childrens Director Ruthie Watt says 50 years of caring for extremely premature infants is a major milestone, especially considering its rural location.
Retired Dr. Jim Opitz was recruited to create Marshfield’s NICU in 1969.
Among those celebrating, were Tom and Asavari Krizenesky of Rhinelander and their twin daughters Audrina and Amiya, who were born premature. The twins were growing at different rates during pregnancy, and when the smaller of the two began showing signs of distress, Asavari underwent an emergency C-section.
Amiya was four pounds when she was born and spent a month in the NICU. Audrina weighed just two pounds and was there for nearly two months. Today, the two are thriving as healthy and happy nine-year-olds, and last year served as “Miracle Kids” for the annual Children’s Miracle Network fundraising campaign.
While every case does not have a desired ending, NICU Patient Care Supervisor Jodi Meronk says the majority of their outcomes are worth celebrating.
Working in the NICU is personal for Meronk, who was born six weeks early 35 years ago, and became what they call a “graduate” of the program.
Marshfield Children’s Hospital has the only Level Three-equipped NICU in central and northern Wisconsin. Its 24-bed unit sees an average of 300 babies a year, and 100 transports from outside Marshfield. The around-the-clock neonatal transport team provides ground and air transport for babies from all over the state and region.