July 2, 2019 — I was on the road again today, headed south to visit with the small but mighty neonatal intensive care unit team at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista. This Level 2 NICU has 10 beds and provides support and care for babies who have mild to moderate health problems at birth.

Meeting the team

I received a warm welcome in the lobby from Neonatal Services Director Linda Glenn and NICU Supervisor Carolina Castillo. We then headed up to the unit, where the team was gathered for a meeting, made more festive with a piñata, decorations and a table covered in candy. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing food provided, including homemade cupcakes and Filipino favorites lumpia and pancit!

While I munched on these tasty treats, each member of the team introduced themselves and shared stories of their days in the NICU. Several of them were here when the NICU opened back in 1989 (Rady Children’s began operating the NICU in 2016). There were some incredible stories from the early days, such as the day a mother gave birth and then, to the shock of everyone, delivered another baby minutes later. Surprise twins!

The next activity involved cracking open a lime-shaped piñata and searching through the candy for footprints. Each pink or blue footprint had a word attached that described important team qualities, such as “excellence” “service” and “teamwork.” Team members would then take turns talking about what that word means to them. For example, “teamwork” was described as “essential in keeping things running smoothly and being prepared for anything to ensure good outcomes.” Under the “service” description, I learned that this team has some incredible longevity. The six longest-serving employees have 181 combined years of service. That’s an average of 30 years each!

The “teamwork” footprint

We took a few photos and then I toured the NICU, which was caring for just one newborn today. As with the other three Rady Children’s NICUs housed within a Scripps hospital (Encinitas, San Diego and La Jolla), the Chula Vista location is staffed and equipped to provide the latest technological advances in diagnosis and treatment and overseen by an experienced Rady Children’s neonatologist. The partnership with Scripps is unique because it’s not about competition; it’s about doing what’s best for infants in the communities where they live.

I left this visit with a full heart (and a full stomach), knowing that this team is fully dedicated to the mission and so passionate about caring for our tiniest patients. Thanks again for the warm welcome, and I hope to be back again soon!

Touring the NICU