Former NICU Patients Return for a ‘Celebration of Life’ (Hartford, Conn.) – Hundreds of former patients and their families gathered today on the front lawn of the Gengras Building at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center to mark the 30th anniversary of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The celebration takes place every five years. Many of the once premature babies returned as full-grown adults, some of them college graduates. More recent patients came back as toddlers and teens. For Dr. Hema Desilva, Chairman of Pediatrics, and founder of the NICU, it’s a day that truly comes full circle. “In the NICU, we treat all kinds of critically ill babies. Prematurity, respiratory distress syndrome, congenital malformations, metabolic disorders, and birth asphyxia all threatened their young lives. To be able to witness how these babies have survived and grown into healthy children and adults is the most rewarding gift for me and our staff,” explains Dr. DeSilva. The NICU at Saint Francis is a designated tertiary care facility that provides comprehensive care to critically ill newborn infants. The NICU delivers intensive medical, surgical, and nursing care, state-of-the-art electronic monitoring, life support systems, and a complete range of diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities. Each year, the staff at the NICU treats about 350 critically ill babies. Since the unit’s inception thirty years ago, roughly 9,000 patients have been cared for. Founded in 1897, Saint Francis is a major teaching hospital licensed for 617 acute inpatient beds and 65 bassinets and is the largest Catholic hospital in New England.