Years ago, the Juneau family welcomed triplets in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Francis Medical Center.
“The appointment was at 11 a.m. and we walked across the street to the hospital and by 1:09 pm, Daniel was born,” says Mark Juneau. “I mean it was that quick.”
Angela Juneau says she got bloodwork done at a routine checkup two weeks before their due date. That’s when doctors found she had HELLP Syndrome and needed to deliver their triplets right away. Mark and Angela Juneau say the care they received at St. Francis Medical Center was second to none.
”The nurses had been on call knowing that we were coming so they were fantastic,” says Mark.
”We loved Dr. de Soler, he was so on top of things and they would speak to you and tell you what was going on and say don’t panic about this because I’m not a nurse and I didn’t know,” explains Angela. She says all three kids did spend time in the NICU but thankfully they were able to come home without any major issues.
Now, their kids are all grown up and in high school.
One of those triplets recently made the trip back to the NICU for the Area Health Education Center Program, or AHEC, where she was able to shadow doctors in different departments. Hannah Juneau got to meet some of the doctors who took care of her, too.
“It was really interesting being in the NICU because I got to meet like Dr. de Soler and a few others that had been there,” says Hannah. “And it just really helped me decide what I want to do, I think I want to be a helicopter nurse maybe work in the ER.”
In a three-week span, the students see it all.
“From gunshot wounds to every aspect of being in the hospital, and I actually had one [student] who said I’m not sure if I want to do this, I know I want to be in the healthcare field, but I’m not sure if I want to be a surgeon anymore,” explains Melissa Macaluso, the Supervisor of Volunteer Services at St. Francis.
She says the program opens up the possibilities for students, and they come out CPR certified on the other side. They do the program every summer and it only happens once a year.
“Students apply through the local AHEC program – Bayou North Ahec program – and they can just look that up online, they apply through that program at their high school campus,” explains Macaluso. “When they apply, they put their report card, they have to write an essay, fill out an application and then we interview them. We had about 40 applicants, 14 were chosen, and we ended up having 13 students come for those three weeks [this year].”
If you missed the program this year and still want to be involved in the hospital, there are ways.
“They can even go a step further and join our volunteer program in the future if that’s something they wanted to do,” says Macaluso. “We have one program it’s a health ambassador and we go from room to room to help patients and we bring them anything they need or may have forgotten and check in on their families.”
We hope your family never needs a NICU, but it’s good to know what’s available—just in case. Across our health system we offer access to the highest quality family-centered care:
Greater Baton Rouge and Northshore: Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care
Acadiana: Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital’s Level III Surgical NICU
Northeast Louisiana: the region’s only Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center
This post was written by Jessica Torricelli and was first published by KNOE in September 2022.