North Carolina hospital holds graduation for premature babies

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jun 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-23 15:06:32-04

Birthdays for babies born prematurely can be the start of a very long hospital stay.

That's why a neonatal unit in North Carolina has found a way to make the day those babies do go home very special. 

Caromont Regional Medical Center doesn't just sign some paperwork and process newborns out - they hold a graduation ceremony.

Registered Nurse Melissa Jordan came up with the idea.

"I wanted to figure out a way to make the actual day of discharge so much more special," she said.

For the past six months, premature babies who've endured long stays have left in style - complete with photos.

"These kids have had to work really hard they have to learn to eat by a bottle, breathe on their own, how to suck a pacifier," says Jordan.

Some newborns spend months in the neonatal unit. Most often, they and their parents grow stronger every day. And while they can't wait to go home, leaving the high-tech nest isn't easy.

"Taking your baby home from nicu is scary you don't have doctors and nurses running in every time the monitor goes off," Jordan said.

Since the program started six months ago, 14 prematurely born babies have graduated with honors from Caromont Regional Medical Center's neonatal unit. Soon, their pictures will hang on the NICU's wall of graduates.