It’s a place where families can connect and recharge. “It helps them. It validates how they feel, and it empowers them,” said Dinah Rose Clemente, a registered nurse with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
HOPE stands for Helping Our Parents Engage—the program offers support and counseling for NICU families while their baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “When your infant is in the NICU, you suppress all of your emotions because you want to be strong for them and you want to be a fighter for them,” said mother of two, Nicole Rocker.
Before the HOPE program was created, Nicole’s daughter Kingston spent two weeks in the NICU after being born prematurely at just 33 weeks. “Hearing that support group that has been started was something that really connected with me, and it was something that I could really have benefitted from,” she said.
Studies show up to 44 percent of mothers whose infants are in the NICU experience post-traumatic stress disorder. “What we give in HOPE is that validation of those feelings, that these are normal. We hopefully give them the emotional tools, the intellectual tools to deal with these stress responses and it’s really empowering them so that when they go home, they engage in the care of their child,” said Clemente.
Giving families a chance to talk, connect, and gain emotional support can help them through their NICU journey and improve their outcome after they leave the hospital.
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