H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Sep 29, 2012 9:20 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

NICU babies celebrate how far they have come

The staff of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center joined hundreds of families and their children for a celebration in Santa Rosa Park today.

It was the annual reunion for families who graduated from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital.

There was an overwhelming sense of gratitude from all the families and children, even the hospital staff at the park.

Doctors say many families come back year after year just for this chance to thank one another for their care during that difficult time.

"I think back and I've taken care of probably close to four thousand of these kids," Dr. Steve Van Scoy, of Sierra Vista, said. "I know just about every one of them."

Dr. Van Scoy knows what wishes were coming true around the park today, like little Leila and Lucy who got lucky when life got lousy.

The Peterson twins spent a tiring two months in the NICU, but now are celebrating their second birthday with the hands that held them up, held out for a better day, and held on.

"I felt like I lived there for two months," Christie Peterson, their mother, said. "My best friends were like the nurses, it was just sort of my universe."

Dr. Van Scoy, too, thanked the families for making their day.

"During day to day, everybody works very hard in the NICU and there's times when you just kind of wonder if all those long hours are worth it. But when you look around on a day like today and see everything you've helped accomplish, it makes everything worth while."

Lucy and Leila's parents agree,"it was obviously not where you'd want to be, but it was about as good as it possibly could be given our circumstances. I feel like there's no way we could ever repay our gratitude."

So happy birthday, to four-thousand and counting.

The NICU treats more than 250 babies every year. But, doctors say this is their favorite day of work.

The Sierra Vista Medical Center sponsors the reunion each year. They say about 600 people came to the park this year.

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