By Helen Bas
In 2003, Beth Dalton was juggling the needs of a toddler with a job that took her all over the country. When she became pregnant, she and husband Mike of Flint were overjoyed that their son, Joseph, would be a big brother. Twins Alexis and Anthony were born at Hurley Medical Center in January 2004 – 14 weeks early. Anthony spent three months in Hurley’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before he was able to go home. For Alexis, nicknamed “Ali,” the road was even longer. Breathing problems caused her to be intubated several times and the subsequent scarring in her airway made her dependent on a ventilator for breathing. Ali was in the NICU for 100 days before she came home. She was on a ventilator in the hospital. She was weaned off of it before she went home, but continued to receive supplemental oxygen delivered through a tracheostomy. Having all the usual new-mom tasks in addition to taking care of Ali’s breathing tube was more than a full-time job for Beth, who quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom.
“It was the best decision I ever made, to stay home with them,” she said. “Plus, I had a 2-year-old at home too, and I needed to be there with him.”
In June 2004, Beth and Mike were changing Ali’s tube when she had an airway spasm and they couldn’t reinsert the tube. Ali went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Hurley. Miraculously, she survived with no brain damage and only very slight vision problems.
Beth credits Hurley’s pediatric services with saving their daughter and keeping her from suffering permanent brain damage or blindness. What they provided for Ali, for both twins, the care, the compassion, was remarkable,” she said. “It was phenomenal to see the nurses in the NICU come together and provide for my kids. And I had no idea until then what Children’s Miracle Network even was.”
Ali was rehospitalized about once a month during her first year and has had 25 hospital stays in her
young life. Beth said she was astounded to see what the Children’s Miracle Network provided for babies in the NICU— rocking chairs, expensive medications.
“Until I was faced with this myself, I had no idea about the NICU or how someone gets care for their child like that,” she said. In March 2007, Ali’s breathing tube was removed for good. “She has permanent damage to her lungs, airway and vocal cords, but functions just fine,” Beth said. “She gets winded when she runs, but knows when to stop. She gets sick easily, but does just fine, considering.”
With the children doing well, Beth wanted to return to work. She’d always had some interest in nursing, and after her experience with Hurley, the decision was made. When she finished nursing school in 2011, there was only one place she wanted to work.
“I put in an application at Hurley and they
told me to come to a job fair they were
having,” she recalled. “And they offered
me a position in the NICU.
“I was just a new nurse, I doubted myself.
I asked them, ‘Are you sure you want me?’
They said ‘absolutely.’
“I feel like we’ve come full circle. This is
where I’m meant to be. I’ve been there for
two years now, and I share my story with
some of the families who are struggling. I
can tell them I’ve been through it, cried,
sat in that very chair. And I see the relief
in their eyes, the weight lift off their
shoulders to know they’re not alone.”