Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Nurses give preemies leaving NICU their own graduation ceremony

For the parents of babies leaving the neonatal intensive care unit, being able to take their newborns home is a momentous occasion, and a nurse in North Carolina is going out of her way to make patients feel special on the big day.

Melissa Jordan, a neonatal nurse at CaroMont Regional Medical Center, first got the idea to celebrate discharges after a baby named Wyatt, born at 29 weeks, went home in a onesie that said "NICU grad." Jordan made him a graduation hat out of cardboard, and asked a photographer if she would come to the hospital to take Wyatt's photo before he left. "I wanted to make it special for them because it had been a long time," she said. The nurses sang and danced for Wyatt, and it was the start of a tradition.

Over the last six months, every baby that was born at least six weeks premature is given a graduation ceremony on their discharge day. Now, their hats are made of foam paper that say how many days they spent in the NICU, and parents still receive their photo, free of charge. So far, there have been 14 graduates, including three sets of twins. "You're happy, but you're sad at the same time because you get so close to the babies and families," Jordan told Inside Edition. "It's a huge deal for the babies to be able to go home. It's exciting to be able to give them this graduation hat." Catherine Garcia