Valley Children’s NICU in Hanford Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary

Valley Children’s NICU in Hanford Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary

(Madera, CA) – Valley Children’s is celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Hanford, California. Our specially trained experts are prepared to care for the littlest patients born before 32 weeks gestation and older, who weigh less than 1500 grams and are in need of complex care.

“Our mission has always been and continues to be ensuring that specialty care is available to all children closer to home,” says Valley Children’s Chief of Newborn Medicine Dr. Patrick Nwajei. “Timely care is the best care and we are proud that our expert staff in Hanford is able to intervene during such a critical time, saving the lives of some of the smallest patients.”

There to serve families in the South Valley, our NICU opened in Adventist Health Hanford in 1996 with just four beds, one registered nurse and one respiratory care professional. Twenty-five years later, our level II NICU is part of the Adventist Health Hanford Birth Center, has six beds and is staffed with 15 nurses and eight respiratory care professionals who are skilled experts and devote their time, energy and hearts to families.

“We are grateful to partner with Valley Children’s in offering lifesaving neonatal intensive care at our Birth Center,” says Laurie Taggart, patient care executive at Adventist Health in the Central Valley. “It’s wonderful to offer parents the reassurance that if their baby needs additional support, they can receive it from specially trained experts right here in our Hanford hospital.”

Long-time Hanford resident Lori Hill is especially grateful for having the NICU right in her hometown. Back in 1996, she experienced several complications during pregnancy, including high blood pressure. Her doctors made the call to deliver Lori’s baby early and on April 12, 1996, Lori gave birth to Bobby – one of the Hanford NICU’s first patients. He was born at 29 weeks gestation (11 weeks early), and he weighed just 1 lb. 14 oz.

“I felt scared about delivering my son early and was heartbroken to part ways with him during a time when I felt he should be closest to my heart,” Hill says. “But I found strength in knowing that the experts at Valley Children’s could care for Bobby when I had to care for myself. In order to be part of his whole life, I had to part ways with him for the first few days of his life, and knowing he was in the best hands made that possible.”

Bobby is now a Kings County sheriff’s deputy and his older sister, Kelsey, is a registered nurse, inspired by the care Bobby received from Valley Children’s so many years ago.

“The Valley Children’s NICU team is trained in the resuscitation of neonates and specializes in high-risk deliveries and complicated births,” says Valley Children’s Hanford NICU Manager Marie Young. “Providing this service in Hanford allows babies to safely stay in the South Valley close to their families when appropriate. It also allows for essential care to be provided to complex, critical patients while awaiting transfer. I am very proud of this team.”

Valley Children’s has four NICUs in the Central Valley, including Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera (the only level IV NICU in the entire region), Mercy Medical Center in Merced and Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno.

U.S. News & World Report also ranks Valley Children’s as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country in seven pediatric specialties, including Neonatology.

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