Lisa McAdams

Two Twins

Lisa McAdams was lucky. When her twin boys were brought from the delivery room into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Queen of the Valley Medical Center last July, it was relatively quiet. There were only two other babies in the NICU—there was plenty of room for Hendrix and Bennett, who were born one month premature.

The next day, three more preemies were brought in. With just six isolettes, the NICU was now at over-capacity. Then, before any of the babies were ready to go home, three more little ones arrived!

Fortunately, Hendrix and Bennett didn’t have life-threatening conditions; they were simply not mature enough to feed on their own and, as a result, required feeding tubes. So the staff was able to move them into a small side room to make space for other, much sicker babies.

For several days, Lisa, who lived just 10 minutes from the Queen, was able to travel back and forth to the hospital every two hours to bring breast milk for the babies. Usually she had her three-year-old in tow. While she was so grateful she lived close by, it broke her heart whenever she saw babies having to be transferred to hospitals outside of Napa Valley—even as far away as San Francisco. She says, “One of the babies I remember so well had to be transferred to Santa Rosa because there was no room in the NICU. The parents were standing there watching their baby being taken away in a gurney and put into an ambulance. Those wonderful nurses were trying to comfort the parents, while the baby was crying horribly. I get chocked up thinking about it. I can’t imagine going through what I did and being so far from home.”

Our NICU cares for all kinds of newborns—not surprising since we are the region’s only hospital with an intensive care unit for preemies. Some babies, like Lisa’s twins, have less critical issues. But many of our patients have life-threatening conditions like pneumonia, birth defects or lung infections—or they’re born two or more months early—requiring extended stays.

To make matters more difficult, typically, our NICU cares for 15 percent of the nearly 600 babies delivered here each year. But this past year, our NICU saw a 200% increase in patients!

Transferring some of our tiniest, most fragile babies goes against everything the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange wanted for our community when the Queen was founded in 1958. For our NICU team, it’s beyond heart breaking when one of our babies, unable to breathe without a respirator, possibly even needing surgery, must be air-lifted to another hospital, where the family often doesn’t know anyone—not even the doctors and nurses in whom they will be entrusting their baby’s care.

Hopefully, you and your loved ones will never need our NICU. But if you do, we’ll be here for you, like we were for Lisa and her family. She says, “My wish is that no other infants will ever have to be transferred far from home. It’s an incredible hardship for their families. I will forever be in debt to the Queen. Sharing my story is one small way I can express my deepest gratitude.”

Please consider a gift to help us reach our funding goal so that we can begin the work to renovate and expand our Obstetric and Neonatal Intensive Care Pavilion. Make a donation here.

1000 Trancas Street • Napa, California 94558 • (707) 257-4044