Valley Children's Hospital residents celebrate life at NICU picnic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Those that were once the tiniest residents at Valley Children's Hospital are celebrating life today.

More than 200 children enjoyed the festivities at the 39th annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) picnic.

The graduates represent those born at 23 weeks gestation to children who had serious complications at birth who have grown into happy healthy kids and adults.

Organizers say some families spend up to 3-4 months in the NICU unit so a special bond is formed.
"Our parents are not visitors in our unit they are part of our medical team taking care of their child so they come back and get to come back and be part of our team as we get to celebrate why we're here today," said Stacie Venkatesan, neonatal services director.

In addition to graduation festivities, resources and programs like developmental services were on hand providing information for families who may not live in the area.

Valley Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Madera is the region's only NICU certified by the state of California as a Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the highest level possible.
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