CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances celebrates NICU graduates, families with a reunion

NICU graduates and their families pose for a photo with NICU staff at Sunday's reunion at the...
NICU graduates and their families pose for a photo with NICU staff at Sunday's reunion at the Caldwell Zoo.(KLTV)
Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It was a day filled with smiles, hugs and reunions for East Texas families and medical staff. Today was CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances’ celebration for their NICU graduates and families.

Families and NICU patients who have graduated and are living healthy lives got to spend the afternoon at the Caldwell Zoo exploring and catching up. Ruth DiBacco is the Clinical Director of Nursing for NICU and Pediatrics and said the day has brought her lots of joy.

“To see all these families together and see them all again — they were so tiny and little, didn’t weigh very much, and now they’re heavy and they’re beautiful — and to see the smiles on these families faces, to know that we made that difference,” DiBacco said.

Skylar and Dante Matero are the parents to almost one-year-old Apphia who was in the NICU for 76 days.

“When you’re seeing your child with tubes down their throat and machines, and they’re so teeny tiny, it can be really scary,” Skylar said. “But they make you feel really, really comfortable. They’re amazing.”

Both agree that it’s been great for them to see the doctors, nurses and staff, but more importantly, “for them to get to see her. That’s been really sweet. They had a hand in how beautiful she is and how healthy she is. Seeing the doctors and the nurses and all the staff — it’s been amazing,” Dante said.

Tiffany Taylor is the medical director for the NICU and is a neonatologist. She said they see patients as early as 22 weeks.

“It’s just such a blessing to see how well they’ve done since they left. It keeps us excited about seeing them and seeing how they are doing,” Taylor said. “It’s great to kind of reconnect with these families.”

DiBacco said they’ve had reunions since the inception of the NICU back in 2008. COVID-19 held them off for a few years, but they are looking forward to more annual reunions for these families.