Newborn Center dedicates The Butterfly Room to support grieving NICU families

Nearly two years ago, Kate Hurlbut, a nurse practitioner for Texas Children’s Pediatrics, and her husband Phillip, mourned the loss of their 7-week-old twin daughter, Ella, who was cared for at Texas Children’s Newborn Center.

Ella developed a widespread bacterial infection when she was five weeks old and fought hard for two weeks but passed away in September 2015. Their twin daughter, Anna, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 83 days before going home to be with her family and 3-year-old brother Luke.

Since Ella’s passing, Hurlbut says one thing that has helped her and her husband find healing is providing support to other grieving NICU families going through similar situations.

“As thankful as we are for the care we received when Ella passed, it also made us realize the need for a more private environment for parents to be able to say goodbye to their babies,” Kate said. “So, when the opportunity presented itself to raise money to open a bereavement room for the Pavilion NICU in Ella’s memory, we felt like this was our opportunity to improve bereavement care for other grieving families.”

Thanks to the Hurlbuts fundraising efforts, their vision soon became a reality. On June 22, the Butterfly Room in the NICU at the Pavilion for Women was dedicated during a special ceremony attended by more than 80 people including NICU leadership, staff and NICU families. Speakers at the dedication ceremony included the Hurlbuts, Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gauthum Suresh, NICU Nursing Director Heather Cherry and NICU Vice President Judy Swanson.

Just as the Hurlbuts envisioned, the bereavement room is designed like a nursery with a crib, comfortable seating for the family and a special private place for families to take as much time as they need to say goodbye to their baby.

“We are incredibly grateful we have been able to raise the funds for this room thanks to the generosity of our friends, family, co-workers and our community,” Kate said. “We hope this room will bring peace and comfort to other bereaved families for many years to come.”