‘Tiny miracles that happen’ — Overland Park hospital celebrates annual NICU reunion

Overland Park hospital NICU reunion

Photo courtesy of Christine Hamele / HCA Midwest.

More than 1,000 staff members and former patients of the Overland Park Regional Medical Center gathered over the weekend to celebrate the “graduates” who began their lives there.

The hospital off of 106th Street and Quivira Road held its annual NICU Reunion event on Saturday.

OPRMC NICU reunion
Amelia, an OPRMC NICU “grad” at Saturday’s event. Photo courtesy of Christine Hamele / HCA Midwest.

The event was for children and families of all ages

  • The reunion event took place at Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s Medical Plaza West.
  • From 9 a.m. to noon, the free event offered carnival activities like face painting and caricature artists.
  • “The NICU reunion is a celebration of the many tiny miracles that happen at Overland Park Regional Medical Center,” said Overland Park Regional Medical Center CEO Matt Sogard. “It’s an honor for us to be a part of our NICU graduates’ lives and build memories together.”

The event reunites former patients with former caregivers

  • In addition to the carnival festivities, hospital officials say families of former patients also get to reunite with the hospital staff members they got to know so well during their stay.
  • “To see these kids thriving after experiencing a challenging start to life is inspiring and a powerful testament to the advanced technology and high-quality care our babies receive,” said Thomas Lancaster, a neonatologist at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. “Despite being born premature, underweight or ill, these kids, their families and caregivers gather to celebrate life.”

Two attendees this year became friends in the NICU

  • After giving birth to their critically-premature sons, Jessica Stockhorst and Christie Cabanas met 14 years ago in the hospital’s NICU.
  • “The friendship with Christie was so valuable in the beginning, as we returned home to navigate life with delicate infants,” Stockhorst said. “It was helpful to have someone else who could really understand.”
  • Not only have both mothers remained friends, but their two now-healthy sons, Cooper Stockhurst and Henry Fearing, have formed a friendship since spending their first four months of life in neighboring rooms at the hospital.
  • Cabanas said she always points the hospital out to Henry as they drive by, reminding him that it was his first home.
  • “It was a rough road after he was born, but the physicians, nurses, and staff in the NICU were nothing short of amazing,” she said. “Everyone was kind, gentle, informative, welcoming. And to meet Jessica was a gift. Of course, neither of us knew then that 14 years later we — and our children — would be friends.”

Other NICU news: Rare twins born at Overland Park Regional Medical Center