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Long-time Beacon Children’s NICU nurse reflects on privilege of caring for babies

Sharon VanDeWielle and her granddaughters.

Sharon VanDeWielle, BSN, RNC-NIC, celebrated 40 years in July at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. She has spent more than 20 of those years working as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“I feel blessed to play a small part in what the NICU makes possible for our babies and their families every day. Parents put their trust in us, virtual strangers, to help care for their little ones, their precious babies. It’s an honor to be part of their stories.

“I remember when we had paper charting, cloth diapers and diaper pins, mercury thermometers. So many things have changed over the years with computers and remote alarms and other technology that is routinely used now.

“What has stayed the same is the wonderful feeling you get when you just sit and rock a baby, feed them, comfort them during or after something stressful, and to see the wonder of each little life. And to watch parents move from being so scared to even touch their baby at first to taking total care of them. That’s what makes our job so fulfilling. During COVID, our staff has always tried to protect our little patients. And we have a camera system so parents and extended family can see their baby when they can’t be here.”

“I’m so thankful to be part of our unit and I always look forward to being there. In fact, I recently dropped hours to part-time because I can’t imagine what my life would look like without the NICU.”