COVID-19: PeaceHealth is open, with safe virtual and in-person visits.
Learn more about our safety measures and visitor restrictions.

Where Angels Dwell: A Father’s Story

Springfield | March 20, 2018
A heartfelt tribute to the NICU caregivers at RiverBend

A grateful father, R. Haight, shared the story of his son, Reilly, and the wonderful care he received after a rough start in the world. This is his heartfelt thank you to all of the amazing and compassionate caregivers in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center-RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon. The touching letter is a tribute to everyone who helped Reilly and his parents with compassion, comfort and professionalism.

"Where Angels Dwell"

My little Reilly was born at 12:58 a.m. at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart-RiverBend hospital in Springfield. He had a rough time coming into the world, and his mom had a rough time getting him into the world, to say at least. He was placed on his mom right after birth, just like in the videos I had seen in the birth education classes. I was amazed how perfect he was, but he didn't have much of a cry.

Turns out the doctor was worried about him, but I wasn't sure why. I started getting scared. A couple minutes later, three angels whisked him into the little room next door for babies who need extra assistance. The nurses put an oxygen mask on Reilly, and I started to sense a feeling of dread welling up inside. I lifted Reilly's hand only for it to fall limply to the platform he was lying on. The three nurses continued their work while calmly answering a battery of questions from me, Reilly's extremely concerned father. Then I followed the three nurses to the NICU where Reilly was put on a breathing apparatus and hooked up to a tangle of wires connected to sensors. I spent all night at Reilly's side with a million thoughts and prayers in my heart while my wife lay in her room, overcome with exhaustion.

Over the several nights Reilly spent in the NICU, I became more aware of how many people in their many different roles were involved in Reilly's care and how much they cared. I began to realize how seamless the transitions were when new staff would begin their shift, and how those leaving were replaced by someone just as caring and meticulous. It was the most compassionate, empathetic, organized and professional environment I had ever been in, and I thank God that Reilly was born at RiverBend.

One nurse was instantly in love with Reilly and called him "little bear." Another nurse was typing with one hand and cradling him in another when I entered his room late one night. The pediatricians and specialists were like generals on the battlefield strategizing how to outsmart Reilly's ailment. They were extremely methodical in how they treated Reilly, and it was plain as day that his well-being was their utmost concern, almost as if he were their own child.

I witnessed countless acts of kindness and comfort by staff, including the Mandarin-speaking nurse who gently soothed my wife's concerns (my wife is Chinese), the lactation experts, security, the kitchen and how sensitive they were when they entered our room and the nurse with the heart of gold who helped us in our car when Reilly finally came home. She herself was once a patient at RiverBend. She was so inspired by the care she received that upon discharge from the hospital, she went right out and became a nurse, only to come right back to help and comfort others.

I suppose the experience was akin to smelling salts that woke me from unconsciousness. After so many years of trudging along worrying about money, getting ticked off in traffic and listening to all the diverse political stuff in the news, RiverBend reminded me of what our nature really is. It is caring for each other that reveals our true selves. Everything else is just noise.

Many people revere celebrities, holding them in lofty positions in their mind, but I would rather have the autograph of a NICU nurse than any Hollywood star. It's a curious thing. Since Reilly has been home, food is tastier, comedy is funnier and colors are brighter. My family will forever be indebted to everyone at RiverBend, and we want to say THANK YOU from the bottoms of our hearts!

(The PeaceHealth) RiverBend hospital used to be just a building I drove by. Now it is a hall where angels dwell, and I thank God for it.

Photos: courtesy of the Haight family.

Recent Stories