August 22, 2019 – It’s always a treat to spend time with staff who work in our satellite locations and partner institutions, and today was no exception. I had the pleasure of visiting with the Rady Children’s team at the Scripps Mercy neonatal intensive care unit, which is located in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood.

Word must be getting around that I enjoy sampling food from favorite local restaurants! For this visit, the team brought in breakfast from Snooze, located just a short walk from the hospital. One wall of the conference room we were meeting in was decorated with baby pictures of the group. Each photo included the number of years the employee had worked in the NICU. I was blown away by the longevity. Of the 20 team members pictured, 12 had worked there for more than 30 years!  Combined, this team has 716 years of service. Now that’s commitment to the mission.

Team members when they were babies

Before we sat down to eat our feast of pancakes, bacon and breakfast burritos, the team presented me with their handmade passport stamp that included the saying, “From small beginnings come great things.” This group is doing great things, providing support and care for babies who have mild to moderate health problems at birth in their Level Acuity II NICU. With 19 beds, the unit is well-equipped to care for these babies, and if newborns require more serious interventions, they are transported to the main NICU at Rady Children’s. There are about 180 deliveries per month at Scripps Mercy. Rady Children’s began managing the NICU there three years ago.

Meeting the team

I then had the opportunity to hear from each team member about their background and some fun facts. It quickly became apparent that this is a lively and diverse group that considers their coworkers their second family. We had a great time talking, and some interesting tidbits emerged along the way. For example

  • one nurse worked at Disneyland and once had to fill in for Minnie Mouse;
  • one nurse was a competitive salsa dancer;
  • several nurses were born in the Philippines; and
  • two nurses attended the same college in South Dakota. What are the odds of that?

We could have spent the entire visit chatting, but I wanted to tour the NICU before I left. With Dr. Riad Mardoum as my guide, we visited the roomy space, which today had only four babies in residence. We checked out the well-appointed supply room and the isolation room, which can be vital when a baby needs to be readmitted to the NICU and may be an infection risk for other newborns.

With my NICU tour guide Dr. Riad Mardoum

I also had the opportunity to see a high-tech training tool: a strikingly realistic doll that is approximately the size of a 28-week-old infant. Medical staff can simulate various medical emergencies with the baby (who is connected to a computer and monitor) and then provide treatment. Very cool technology that is shared across our satellite NICUs!

I headed back to the office with the knowledge that this team is providing the very best care to newborns and their families. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where our team members are working. Whether at a satellite NICU, in a different county or at the main campus, wherever the Rady Children’s kite is flying, you can be sure that our team is demonstrating their commitment to our mission day in and day out.