Bookmark and Share RSS IconRSS

Feature Stories by Date

Watch the Video

Video IconWatch NBC 30 story

Feature Story

Health Center Today, November 17, 2009

Family Centered Care on Display

NICU Family Photos Are Focus of Emotional Exhibit

Photo Gallery
Select image to view.

By Maureen McGuire

When the March of Dimes teamed with the Health Center in 2006 to launch the state’s first NICU Family Support Program, one of its many goals was to help families chronicle and celebrate the births of their babies. The NICU staff was concerned that when babies are born prematurely or with other serious medical problems, some of the simple, usual rituals associated with childbirth – like the creation of keepsake photos – were often overlooked.

Through the generosity of West Hartford photographer Patty Swanson, this goal has been met. Swanson, whose twins started their lives in the NICU in 1995, now voluntarily photographs other NICU families and donates her work.

This month, in recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month, a special collection of her photos called the "Family Centered Care Photo Gallery," will become a permanent display in the NICU.

"Because of Patty, families are able to celebrate this important milestone in their lives and they are given very beautiful, touching photos," said Jeanne Lattanzio, coordinator of the NICU Family Support Program and retired director of nursing at John Dempsey Hospital.

Prematurity Awareness
The March of Dimes has released its annual "Premature Birth Report Card." For the second consecutive year, Connecticut earned a "C" but showed improvement on criteria that can help give all babies a healthy start in life. Overall, the U.S. earned only a "D" on the report card, demonstrating that more than a half million of our nation’s newborns didn’t get the healthy start they deserved. As in 2008, no state earned an "A" and only Vermont received a "B."

Among the selected contributing factors of preterm birth, improving access to health care coverage earned a star on the 2009 Connecticut report card for its improved rate (from a previous rate of 13.5 percent to the latest rate of 12.2 percent). Connecticut has continued to provide expanded medical coverage for pregnant women up to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, allowing more pregnant women access to health coverage.

Other contributing factors include:

  • Reducing the percentage of women of child-bearing age who smoke;
  • Lowering the late preterm birth rate.

Both the rates of women smoking and late preterm births increased since the initial report card in 2008. In Connecticut, the rate of late preterm births is 10.5 percent; the rate of women smoking is 18.7 percent, and the rate of uninsured women is 12.2 percent.

In recent years, the March of Dimes has embarked on a major, nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the diverse causes of premature births and to support research initiatives to help the medical community better understand its causes, especially since premature births can happen without a warning. In that spirit, the March of Dimes led an effort to name November "Prematurity Awareness Month" and marks one day as "Prematurity Awareness Day."

To learn more, visit or