By Your Side: NICU Nurse Helping Families for 30 Years

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For more than 30 years, a Renown NICU nurse has been an important part of the fabric of her patients’ lives, including a newborn who stayed in the NICU under her care for 111 days.

When Joye Kinkade went into labor at 36 weeks and needed an emergency cesarean section, Gail Adler, R.N., was by her side.

And on Jan. 25, the 111th day of Kinkade’s son’s stay in Renown’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) — the same day he was transferred to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford — Adler was still by the family’s side.

“Gail took a special interest in Ben and got to know him — his quirks and what works for him and doesn’t,” Kinkade says. “Gail communicated with me. She let me learn and help with Ben and build a relationship where we are his co-caregivers. It’s all meant so much.”

Ben was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called trisomy 18 when he was still in the womb. He was also born with long gap esophageal atresia, which results in the inability to swallow. Kinkade said she and her family were given “a very grim outlook on his life.” Ben was born Oct. 6 at 3 pounds, 2 ounces and had to be resuscitated at birth by Adler and other clinicians.

But 111 days later, on Jan. 24, Ben weighed in at nearly 10 pounds. 

A Noticeable Passion for Tiny Lives

Adler, a NICU RN with more than 30 years of experience and a member of the NICU transport team, is driven by her desire to provide babies and their families the best beginnings possible. 

“I love primary nursing because I get to stay with one baby throughout their stay and get to know their them and their parents,” she says. “I am able to be there for them and have a continuity of care.”

Adler served as Ben’s primary nurse — a nurse who is assigned to a patient who has an extended stay. Kinkade, who lives in Fallon with her husband and son, stayed locally in Reno in order to visit Ben. She went home on the weekends, comforted knowing Adler was Ben’s nurse at night.

“When I go to Fallon to be with my family and rest as best as I can, I know Gail is here taking extra special care of him,” Kinkade says. “That really sets my mind at ease.” 

Adler did some wonderful things for Ben’s family during their stay — things like decorating his mobile with a string of lights at Christmas, making him a crown for his 100th day in the NICU, and bringing him a little stuffed animal dog, blankets and outfits.

Adler also made a care journal specific to Ben that will follow him throughout his healthcare journey. 

“Adler encouraged everybody to write things in the journal that they knew would help him,” Kinkade says. “That has been a huge help — to be able to have consistent care. His needs are so specific. If one thing gets out of whack, then he is compromised. ”

A Source of Inspiration for RNs

Adler not only has a lasting impact on her patients and their families, but also on her fellow nurses. In a recent nomination for a nursing award, fellow NICU nurse Stephanie Aitken said Adler’s level of patient care serves as an inspiration.

“I am definitely inspired and hope that after 30 years my heart is still half as full as Gail’s to be able to show such compassion every time you clock in for work,” Aitken wrote. “I know our babies’ parents adore Gail and feel like they can never repay her for being their support, resource and angel to watch over their baby every night.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Amazing story! I just happened to read the heading and it caught my eye. I think Gail and the other wonderful NICU nurses are just a blessing to those babies and families. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. I love this story.
    To leave your brand new baby with someone you don’t know can be really scary. I am so glad that Gail Adler was there to put some comfort in their lives and let them have a level of trust and build a good relationship. Proves our mission statement says it all.

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