NICU nurse's patients are now co-workers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

NICU nurse's patients are now co-workers

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Most people have trouble remembering their own phone numbers, let alone thousands of people who pass through their lives over 30 years. 

But remembering seems to come easy to the nurses on Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

They say it's because they each have such unique cases and when those children come back all grown up, the hard work is worth it.

One nurse is now working side by side with a child she once cared for.

Imagine a family with more than a thousand members and remembering nearly every one, that's what it's like for 30-year veteran neonatal nurse Mattie Willis.

"Every baby's different and their problems are unique, you never forget," she said.

A former patient is now a coworker. A video shows a tiny Claire Thompson, and Willis caring for her.

"She was just talking to me and saying how she wanted me to come back and see here before I graduated and it's just kind of neat, because I did that," said Thompson.

Many do, and Willis remembers more than names, mostly because this is more than a job.

"Just like a mom with several different children, your children are different there's always something unique and special and different about each one of them, " said Willis.

"Even in a year and a half there that I've been here there are just certain families and patients you never forget," said Thompson.

Because it takes a special person to do what they do.

"The nurturing, the caring we look for those kind of things when we start interviewing, hiring people for the NICU we're very picky because we need those qualities," said R. N. Susan Banks,  NeoNatal Shift Supervisor.

They send families with children who've struggled at the start, home with the tools they need to survive because they never know who that child will become.

"We could be nurturing doctors, nurses, lawyers, presidents of the united states, CEO of Phoebe Putney," said Willis.

Clair Thompson is also giving back by participating in this weekend's Jingle Bell Jog that benefits the Children's Miracle Network.

The organization in turn provides Phoebe's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with services and equipment.

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