June 10, 2019 — I hit the road for this visit, driving up to Escondido to meet with the neonatal intensive care unit team at Palomar Medical Center.

Receiving a warm welcome and a cold beverage

Things got off to a great start when I met Karen Beckett and Stephanie Boyd in the lobby. They presented me with a “Palomar Priority Pass,” a passport book and a custom mocktail called a Palomar Passion!  We then headed up to the NICU, a four-bed unit that is staffed around the clock. The nurses here are an experienced bunch, with an average service commitment of 20.5 years. With 20 nurses altogether, that calculates to a grand total of 411 years!

I arrived on a day when the NICU was filled to capacity, thanks to the birth of twins. Rady Children’s began operating the Palomar NICU in 2010 at the downtown Escondido location. The new Palomar Medical Center opened in 2012 and the NICU moved to that location in 2017, welcoming its first patient on March 16, 2017.

The Palomar NICU is a great example of how Rady Children’s partners with other health systems in the area to provide pediatric care. We’re like the “Intel chip” inside these institutions, delivering superior services to children and their families.

The entrance to the NICU

In addition to Palomar, Rady Children’s operates NICUs at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta.

Getting in position to catch a ring

During the team meeting I attended, we played a ring toss game that involved me catching plastic rings on a castle. You have to see the photos to see what I am talking about! Each ring featured one of the responsibilities that the unit’s nurses perform, such as delivery attendance, professional practice exemplars, ADT in two systems (admission, discharge or transfer) and supply management.

The point is that when working in a small unit like this, the Palomar NICU’s tightknit team wears a lot of hats to get the job done. They are also proud of the community that they serve and the services they provide to families. As one nurse put it, “the community needs this place.”  I couldn’t agree more.

I eventually caught them all!