Part 1: Tiny Miracles - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Part 1: Tiny Miracles

Adam Suchy in January '09 Adam Suchy in January '09
Logan Suchy in January '09 Logan Suchy in January '09
Timothy Suchy in January '09 Timothy Suchy in January '09
Tamara & John Suchy Tamara & John Suchy
SJCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit SJCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

by Pam Warnke

MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- Many consider the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital its heart.

A place where life begins, even if too early or too ill.

A place where the sounds of monitors and machines gently fade away.

Where the life of a child comes into focus.

Tamara Suchy, her husband John, and their beautiful triplet boys--born into the world far too early--at just 24 weeks.

"I kept on telling the doctors we were going to make it to 34 weeks, but we didn't make it.  The babies were born December 20th in an emergency c-section at 7:11, 7:13 and 7:14 in the morning," Tamara said.

We first met Adam, Logan and Timothy in January, nestled in isolates.

"They're hanging in there.  Each day they're getting a little stronger, a little bigger," John said.

Neonatologist Dr. Audra Winder starts her morning with the boys.  Logan marking a milestone.  He's the first of the three to hit two pounds.

"He's our little chunky monkey," John said.

Mom and Dad, the pillars of grace and strength, waiting for their boys to get better, to come home.

"We know that they are in the best hands," said Tamara.

There are thousands of similar stories written from this NICU since it opened 40 years ago.

Dr. Jim Opitz was recruited in 1969 to get the unit off the ground.

With two nurses at his side they ventured to Madison for training.

"And, then these two ladies came back and were basically the mentors for the entire neonatal nursing staff," said Dr. Opitz.

The training and mentoring in the NICU today resembles those initial values taught by the early team.

The level 3B tertiary care center provides care to the earliest and smallest babies.  Some of those babies are born at just one pound.

The unit holds up to 24 babies with 5 neonatologists on staff and more than 40 nurses.

And, if the NICU is the heart of a hospital the nurses certainly provide the beat.

Many stay their entire careers.

"I think that I boast, if not the most tenured staff, one of the most tenured staffs here at St. Joe's," said NICU Manager Rachael Haupt-Harrington .

Registered Nurse Judy Mauritz, found her way here and stayed 36 years.

She said, "It was pure, blessed happenstance.  I think I said that for a lot of years at my evaluations.  I love my job."

Jeannie Matsche marks 28 years in June.

"We do it because you can make such an impact when you're dealing with the start of life," she said.

Life that is so fragile here.

These babies need skilled and compassionate hands to get them through often times serious bumps.

"You're feeling it with your heart.  It's another groups of moms or sisters or aunties or whatever the case is, and they're really putting their heart and soul into taking care of the little ones that we're in charge of taking care of," said Haupt-Harrington.

These veteran NICU nurses have seen a lot in their years of dedication.

Babies like Adam, Logan and Timothy who are depending on that dedication to help them get to their real home.

"I wouldn't want them to be anywhere else," said John Suchy.

Online Reporter: Pam Warnke

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