Former NICU patients celebrate their time at Valley Children’s with annual picnic

About 275 “graduates” attended the 39th annual reunion for former Valley Children’s Hospital NICU patients and their families Saturday on the south lawn of the Madera County hospital.

The reunion is an opportunity for former patients to catch up with nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers. Stacie Venkatesan, hospital director of neonatal services, said the event attracted about 800 people including family members. The oldest graduate present was in his 30s, Venkatesan said.

Valley Children’s says its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the region’s only NICU certified by the state as a regional neonatal intensive care unit – the highest level possible. It’s also Central California’s only Level IV NICU, meaning it meets the highest standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is staffed and equipped to provide expert care for the smallest and most critically ill babies.

VCH pediatric specialists, nurses and staff also care for babies in the NICUs at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Mercy Medical Center in Merced and Adventist Medical Center Hanford.