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Miracle Maker: Tricia White

Outstanding Commitment by a Grateful Parent

Tricia, Jamie and FriendThe Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UR Medicine's Golisano Children’s Hospital may be known as a leading center for healing, but for Tricia White it became something more. For the first 87 days of her daughter Jamie’s life, the NICU became a second home for Tricia and her family.

When Tricia’s water broke at 23 1/2 weeks she was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital for the first step in a long, and successful, journey to bring Jamie into the world. Two weeks after Tricia was admitted, Jamie was born weighing only 1 pound 7 ounces. Being born at 25 1/2 weeks put Jamie on the edge of viability, and Jamie was immediately admitted to the NICU after birth.

Tricia brought lists of questions about her daughter’s condition for the NICU staff, and the doctors and nurses would do everything in their power not only to take care of Jamie, but also to ensure that Tricia and her family always understood how their daughter was doing. After 87 long days, Jamie was discharged and went home weighing 3 pounds, 10 1/2 ounces.

Tricia credits the NICU staff with saving her daughter’s life.

“I don’t believe she would have made it,” Tricia said.

Even after Jamie went home, Tricia knew that she was not done with the NICU and that she wanted to give back in some way. Tricia was so impressed by the level of care and commitment shown by the NICU staff that she began to think of the NICU as Rochester’s hidden treasure.

Tricia wanted to contribute to the hospital that saved her daughter’s life and she has done so in an amazing way. Tricia, along with nine other parents, organizes a parent-to-parent group, as well as a NICU family night every month. She also contributes her time to a scrapbook and memory page group that meets every other week with families of NICU patients. Tricia’s family is a fixture at the NICU booth of the Stroll for Strong Kids, and they are very active in fundraising efforts for Golisano Children’s Hospital. 

“Tricia develops incredible rapport with the NICU families.” said Carla LeVant, L.M.S.W., senior social worker at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “She shares, listens, and helps uncover things from families that can make the NICU better.” 

Tricia’s proudest achievement is the amazing work she has done as a mentor and advocate for NICU families. Tricia reaches out to families with babies in the NICU, sitting by the bedside with them, providing them emotional support, and sharing in their struggles. She can be found in the NICU every Wednesday sharing her experience with other families, and supporting them as they care for their loved ones. Being a mentor has allowed Tricia the opportunity to train families to become advocates for their babies, and take a more active role in the care of their loved ones.

Tricia has taken up the charge of advocacy by serving on the NICU Advisory Committee and the Family Advisory Committee, both of which bring together doctors, nurses, and families to improve patient care. Patrick Hopkins, D.N.P., R.N., P.N.P., N.N.P., a professor of Nursing and a nurse in the NICU during Jamie’s stay there, credits Tricia with helping to shift the way providers think about NICU families. Through Tricia’s advocacy the paradigm has begun to shift from parents being viewed as visitors to parents being seen as partners in care.

The commitment and compassion that Tricia shows every time she works with a NICU family are wonderful assets to Golisano Children’s Hospital. Just as the NICU staff became part of Tricia’s family more than nine years ago, she has become part of our family. Tricia truly believes that Jamie, her “miracle child,” is here today because of Golisano Children’s Hospital, and she has gone above and beyond to help make miracles happen for other families.

“You just feel better when Tricia walks into the room.” said LeVant. “She exudes energy and positivity. She just makes you feel good.”

We are in awe of Tricia’s near super-human levels of dedication and generosity. Her commitment to NICU families is an inspiration and we congratulate her on all she has done to help our families during extraordinarily difficult times. We congratulate Tricia White and are proud to award her our 2014 Miracle Maker Award for Outstanding Commitment by a Grateful Parent.