Nancy Johnson, Alice Jones and Dana Hamilton, registered nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit at Holston Valley Medical Center, review the calendarHolston Valley Celebrates Success Of Babies Treated In NICU With Inaugural Calendar

Emily and Madison Surgener’s parents can hardly believe their vivacious 3-year-old daughters are the same girls who spent their first months of life hooked to wires and tubes, fighting for their lives.

The region can share in their progress in Holston Valley Medical Center’s inaugural neonatal intensive care unit calendar. A recent picture of Emily and Madison, featured in the April section, stands above photos of them in the hospital, showing just how far they have come.

“Our family has always wanted to thank Holston Valley and its staff for making the girls’ experience easier on us,” said Sean Surgener, the twins’ father. “They go above and beyond expectations for these children, and it’s an honor to continue to work with them.”

The limited-edition calendar, released Nov. 19 and titled “Labors of Love,” features photographs of children during their stay at the NICU, along with current photos and life updates. Throughout the year, the calendar will be given mostly to NICU patients’ families as they wait and pray for their children to grow strong enough to come home.

“We wanted to provide hope to the mothers and fathers who camp out in the NICU for weeks and months with their children,” said Laurie Kaudewitz, Holston Valley’s director of women’s and children’s services. “When you see these success stories – a young woman on her wedding day, first-graders going off to school, a college graduate – you can see NICU babies grow into thriving, healthy children and adults.”

A part of the hospital for more than 26 years, Holston Valley’s NICU has 15 dedicated beds with highly skilled physicians and staff members caring for babies delivered as young as 24 weeks of age – newborns requiring the very highest level of care. A specially certified NICU medical team provides essential services to ensure the safety and well-being of newborns, including hearing screenings and other tests prior to leaving the hospital.

The calendar project was developed by Holston Valley Shepherds – empowered co-workers who suggest and help implement operational changes in the hospital to benefit patients and staff. A group of these Shepherds worked with the hospital’s NICU and pediatric staff to select former patients ranging from 3 to 24 years old.

Several of the featured children have represented Holston Valley’s NICU before as ambassadors for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Holston Valley’s NICU, which has attained Level III status, is one of beneficiaries within Wellmont Health System of Children’s Miracle Network  funds. Wellmont, the regional affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network for 25 years, uses those funds to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for its pediatric and neonatal intensive care programs and emergency departments and to support community education programs.

“We are extremely proud of our NICU and the way it enhances the chances of long-term health for the children it serves,” said Virginia Frank, the hospital’s president. “Our partnership with Children’s Miracle Network, combined with the excellence of our caregivers in the NICU and determined parents, provide an optimistic future for these children. This innovative calendar is a superb way to highlight this partnership, celebrate its success and look to a future of unlimited promise.”

The calendar is also a celebration of National Prematurity Awareness Month, which the March of Dimes promotes. As part of the organization’s prematurity campaign, the March of Dimes and its partners worldwide ask everyone to spread the word about the serious problem of preterm birth.

“In Tennessee, 12.8 percent of all births are preterm,” said Dr. P.J. Powers, a neonatologist who practices at Holston Valley. “Our NICU nurses and physicians work miracles with premature babies, but it’s a tough way for the child to start life.”

Other issues can lead to NICU stays, such as preeclampsia, Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and infant respiratory distress. During the newborn’s time in the NICU, physicians and Holston Valley’s nurses care for them and their families as long as six months.

“The saying goes, ‘Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow,’” Dr. Powers said. “In the NICU, we’re helping these children become mighty oaks.”

To learn more about Holston Valley’s NICU, call 423-224-6280. Pledges to Children’s Miracle Network can be made at any time by visiting and clicking the link for giving. More information is also available at