Biggest Hearts for Smallest Patients

September 15, 2017

By Mercy’s Todd Nighswonger

When it to comes to caring for the smallest and most fragile patients, neonatal nurse superheroes are there to save the day.

On September 15, National Neonatal Nurses Day, we honor the extraordinary efforts of these nurses. Mercy has many throughout the four states, including several in Joplin who are wonder women to families such as the Feathers.

Due to Melinda Feather’s preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, Dr. Jason Sloan decided to deliver her baby at 31 weeks. Emery weighed only 2½ pounds.

Father Dusty Feather quickly learned that the staff in Mercy Hospital Joplin’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) would not only take care of Emery during her 48-day stay, but also her parents and 3-year-old brother, Caden.

“Initially, it was very scary and there was a lot of unknown,” Dusty said. “The doctors and nurses here are fantastic. They made it much easier on us than it could have been.”

Caden had his third birthday while Emery was in the NICU. One of his presents was a Captain America mask that he wore to the hospital. Neonatal nurse Megan Burrows brought in her young son’s costumes so a nurse each night could wear one of the masks and capes when Caden was there.

“It’s pretty evident with the nurses here that it’s not just a job to them,” Dusty said. “They genuinely care about the little ones and their families. The way they treated our 3 year old was amazing. He loved being here and seeing the nurses.”

With great power comes great responsibility, something Mercy’s neonatal nurses take to heart.

“I can’t tell the nurses enough how thankful we are,” he said. “It was a huge blessing to have the reassurance that our little girl was taken care of and for them to treat us like family.”

Burrows said having families like the Feathers helps bring a lightheartedness to what can be a stressful time for nurses and patients.

“Being a NICU nurse isn’t always easy. We do what we do because of families like the Feathers,” she said. “We like to take care of the babies and their families, spoil them and send them home.”

Emery is home now, doing well and weighs more than 4 pounds.

From left, Cassie Fletcher, Jessica Durbin and Megan Burrows are just three of many superhero neonatal nurses at Mercy.

From left, Cassie Fletcher, Jessica Durbin and Megan Burrows are just three of many superhero neonatal nurses at Mercy.

The Mercy Hospital Joplin superhero neonatal nurses visit with mom Melinda Feather and Emery, who was born at 2 1/2 pounds, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 48 days and was more than 4 pounds when she and mom visited the NICU.

The Mercy Hospital Joplin superhero neonatal nurses visit with mom Melinda Feather and Emery, who was born at 2 1/2 pounds, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 48 days and was more than 4 pounds when she and mom visited the NICU.

Caden Feather, 3, and neonatal nurse Megan Burrows display their super powers.

Caden Feather, 3, and neonatal nurse Megan Burrows display their super powers.

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