NICU Nurtures Premature Baby and Inspires Mom’s Future Career
Michelle Zavalza, a student in Pico Rivera, was excited for the upcoming birth of her son—but terrified when her water broke early, at just 26 weeks pregnant. She did the right thing and immediately went to the emergency department at PIH Health Hospital – Whittier, where the medical team’s goal was to keep the baby growing in the womb for as long as possible.
Michelle was admitted to the hospital, where she stayed for three weeks before her son, Santiago, was born on Sept. 17, 2018. Because the baby was premature, he spent the next 100 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he was cared for by expert doctors and nurses until he could be released.
That NICU medical team did more than nurture Santiago during his fragile first weeks of life. Through their expertise, compassion and dedication, they also inspired Michelle in a profound way. Today, she’s committed to becoming a NICU nurse, where she can offer the same type of life-sustaining care to other babies and moms in her situation.
“Because of the great experience I had at PIH Health—witnessing all the hard work that goes on in a NICU department—there’s no place I would rather work. I’ve set my sights on becoming a NICU nurse someday and applying my skills in this specialized setting. I’m so grateful for the excellent care we both received at PIH Health.”