Parkland Hospital offers a unique partnership with the March of Dimes to help families with the stress of having a baby born prematurely or with another medical condition. And there's one woman in particular who has kept the program going strong for years.
Dora Acosta has worked as the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist for five years, and has won awards for her work with families at Parkland Hospital. She is the only March of Dimes Family Support Specialist in North Texas.
“It personally gives me an opportunity to advocate for families and empower them,” said Acosta. The program provides information and comfort to families with babies hospitalized in a neonatal intensive-care unit.
“We provide support and information to families, but also we support the staff because it’s a partnership with Parkland to be able to do this” said Acosta. One new mother, Maria Flores, said the program has worked to her great benefit while her newborn Emily remains in the hospital.
"We do scrap booking, and we did arts and crafts,” said Flores about how the program helped keep her mind occupied and as stress-free as possible. The new mother also learned infant massage as from the program.
Medical staff at Parkland welcome someone like Acosta who brings something different to the care they offer. “Her unique position is she's really able to connect to families and be an friend to them in the NICU,” said Parkland employee Meredith Long. “She doesn't have all the medical jargon, she can really just talk to them like a friend and connect with them emotionally."
It's an emotional connection that can help the thousands of families who have to cope with a sick newborn. The numbers are high. One in every 10 babies born in the United States is admitted to a newborn intensive care unit because of premature birth or another medical condition, according to the March of Dimes.