Cohen celebrates 35 years of neonatal intensive care

Cohen celebrates 35 years of neonatal intensive care
Dad John Oquendo holds young Jacob Oquendo while mom Tiffany Collado smiles as Cohen Children’s Medical Center marked 35 years of care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. (Photo courtesy of Cohen Children's Medical center)

Weighing only 2 pounds, 4 ounces, Maverick Saatchi was born at 31 weeks gestation. Maverick underwent his first surgery at just 24 hours old to fix an abnormal connection between his esophagus and trachea.

Saatchi’s initial stay at Cohen Children’s Medical Center was for eight and a half weeks. He has returned to Cohen for nine additional procedures and a total of 15 hospital stays.

Each time, he walks in with a smile, his mother said.

“It’s taken us a long time to get to a happy and healthy boy,” Morgan Saatchi, a Merrick resident, said in a Cohen news release. “…The fact that he’s happy to be here is a testament to the people.”

Maverick, now 4, is just one of 350 former Cohen Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients who returned to the hospital recently to celebrate the unit’s 35th anniversary.

Since the unit’s founding in 1993, the operation has grown from two neonatologists to 22, according to the news release.

Morgan Saatchi with her son, Maverick, who was born at 31 weeks gestation and weighed only 2 pounds and 4 ounces.
(Photo courtesy of Cohen Children’s Medical center)

The unit currently has 57 beds and uses the latest neonatology equipment, according to the release. Cohen’s NICU also has access to Northwell Health’s SkyHealth emergency helicopter if needed.

In 2017, Cohen’s NICU treated 2,088 patients, according to the release.

“All in all, we are very proud,” Dr. Joanna Beachy, associate chief of perinatal medicine and neonatology, said in the release. “It’s a team effort — doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and nutritionists — everybody is involved in making sure that we have the best outcome that we can.”

Tiffany Collado, mother of 4-year-old Jacob, also came out to celebrate the care her son received from Cohen when he was born 10 weeks premature at 3 pounds, 4 ounces.

Jacob has chronic lung disease, and his 11-month stay at Cohen included six surgeries, five blood transfusions, four rounds of high-dose steroids and a tracheostomy with ventilator support and a surgically placed feeding tube.

Jacob also battled hydrocephalus and meningitis.

“When I tell Jacob’s story I don’t remember living it,” Collado, a Selden resident, said in the release. “My experience here was amazing. Before I came here I didn’t know anything. We were so scared, but the bedside manner here is incredible. I’ve developed relationships here with everyone.”

Carolyn Quinn, Cohen’s deputy executive director and a former pediatric intensive care unit nurse, also celebrated Cohen NICU’s care – which she experienced firsthand.

Quinn’s triplets, John, Owen and Conor, were born at 29 weeks gestation.

Now, they’re 21 years old.

“I am proof that you can get through it,” Quinn said in the release. “These are the best people in the world to take care of your children. I would not be doing as well as I did without the nurses and doctors here. Thank you for helping me celebrate them.”

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