Premature birth—any birth before 37 weeks’ gestation—occurs for 1 of every 10 infants born in the U.S. and is often unpredictable. Though this difference of just a few weeks between prematurity and full-term birth may not seem like much, many essential developments occur in the infant’s brain, lungs and liver in the final weeks of pregnancy. Infants born prematurely may experience motor, language, cognitive or other developmental delays, sensory losses such as hearing or visual impairment, or feeding difficulties. Premature birth can produce questions, fear and uncertainty for parents.
Enter Graham’s Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure parents and families have support when experiencing a premature birth. The organization was founded in 2009 and offers several programs to assist parents of preemies throughout their NICU stay. The MEDNAX Center for Research, Education, Quality and Safety (CREQS) is a proud partner of Graham’s Foundation and, through our presence in neonatal intensive care units across the country, strives to provide the highest quality care to premature infants and their families. MEDNAX’s own Ingrid Vasiliu-Feltes, M.D., MBA, Chief Quality and Safety Officer, serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. Dr. Vasiliu-Feltes states, “It is an honor to assist the organization in their education and advocacy efforts for parents during these challenging times.”
Here are just a few of the ways Graham’s Foundation provides support for families in need.
- The organization offers complimentary care packages geared to support families through different stages of the prematurity journey. The packages include information and resources to meet the needs of parents.
- MEDNAX is a sponsor for ‘Tinis for Preemies, the now-virtual event that features inspiring stories from families and information from top professionals in the field. This year’s event will be virtually held on November 19th from 8 pm to 9:30 pm EST. Register now!
- The custom MyPreemie App is specifically designed for parents. The app includes input from experts and fellow parents as well as information to comfort and guide families through the NICU. MyPreemie also provides growth tracking, conversation guides and a milestone diary. The app is available for free in English or Spanish.
- The Preemie Parent Mentor Program allows parents to share their experiences and insights with other parents. No one’s experience is exactly the same, but fellow preemie parents (and grandparents) can provide unique insights and empathy. Mentors are available for short- or long-term needs and can be contacted by phone, text, email or video chat.
- Essential resources—the Graham’s Foundation website is full of quality preemie-related information and stories of hope and strength.
This year, MEDNAX strengthened our partnership with Graham’s Foundation by working with them to design a “tele-mentoring” program utilizing a telemedicine platform. In a year of social distancing, this is able to enhance virtual engagement. Providing a video platform and more digital entry points allows for a significantly personalized and streamlined communication process for volunteers and new preemie parents in the Preemie Parent Mentor Program. From set up to matching participants to improved scheduling abilities, MEDNAX is proud to assist the Graham’s Foundation and improve preemie families' experience.
If you or someone you know is impacted by premature birth and the challenges that may follow, we encourage you to seek support from Graham’s Foundation and their network of resources.
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