The Temple triplets simply stared at the crowd, urging them to make a mess of their individual birthday cakes. It's not that Ryan, Alyssa, and Cameron didn't know how to dig in. It's just they're not usually surrounded by a crowd of VIPs, helping celebrate lives that started with ten weeks at Stormont-Vail's neo-natal intensive care unit.
The Temples are three of the more than 400 babies helped by Stormont's NICU every year. Kansas Secretary of Administration, and Stormon-Vail Foundation board member, Howard Fricke said he has a personal connection to the unit.
"My grandson and the beautiful young girls that we have here today are proof of the miracles that happen all the time in our NICU," he said.
Fricke helped kick off an effort to make a miracle happen for the NICU. In the current NICU, started in 1985, beds and equipment are right next to each other and families are out in the open. A $5.3 million project will more than double the unit's space, creating individual rooms, able to accommodate today's technology.
"It provides privacy for the family. There's noise control," said Dr. Jose Gierbolini, Stormont-Vail neonatalogist. "We can actually provide higher quality of care, better development for these babies, better chance to have a better outcome."
Those outcomes are what keep doctors and nurses coming back.
"We feel honored to be able to take care of these babies and be a part of this," said Dr. Robert Sidlinger, Stormont-Vail neonatalogist. "We feel honored every day to come to work and take care of the babies. The joy that we see and the parents when they get to bring their babies back in and see us, it's wonderful that the community can join with us to make this an even better place."
The Stormont-Vail Foundation's already raised $3 million toward the $5.3 million goal. If you'd like to help out, call 354-6851.