Finding NICU: SLO County’s Only Level III NICU Celebrates Reunion at Sunset Drive-In

Dec 13, 2021

One of Tenet Health Central Coast’s favorite events of the year took place at a unique setting this year – our annual reunion of patients and families with the nurses and doctors of Sierra Vista’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was held at the Sunset Drive-In Theater in San Luis Obispo in November.

This annual event went from a Drive-Through in 2020 (due to the pandemic) to the Drive-In 2021 to celebrate the miracle babies who have “graduated” from the NICU, the only Level III NICU in the County. Pictures of babies while in NICU combined with recent photos were shown on screen and, following an interactive presentation with Dr. Steve Van Scoy, attendees were treated to a showing of “Finding Nemo.”

The reunion celebrates the families that have been with us in the NICU and reunites them with the nurses, doctors and staff that became part of their lives. The reunion also engenders building a community with others who have similar experiences.

Each year, nearly 200 babies born in our community receive advanced care in Sierra Vista’s NICU, which opened in 1986, due to extreme prematurity or because they are otherwise critically ill. The resources and expertise of the Sierra Vista NICU team means that very rarely do babies need to be transferred out of the area for care. This means families are able to stay close to home, while their newborns grow and develop under the attentive care of the Sierra Vista team.

In addition, Sierra Vista also is the only hospital in California with NicView – real-time 24/7 secure-signal cameras at each baby bed so parents can stay connected to their baby even when they can’t be at the hospital whether due to work or transportation challenges of even Covid-19 visitor restrictions. As the character Dory said on the big screen at the NICU reunion, “I look at you, and I… and I’m home.”

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