Serving the smallest patients: UofL Hospital celebrates NICU ‘graduates’ Oct. 12

    Coulter babies in the UofL Hospital NICU
    Coulter babies in the UofL Hospital NICU, 2018

    First-time parents Travis and Heather Coulter’s twin infants, Samantha and Samuel, spent 75 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at UofL Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants after being born 13 weeks premature.

    Travis and Heather Coulter and family
    Travis and Heather Coulter and family

    “My husband and I constantly say, ‘how were we not more scared than we were?’ It’s because the NICU nurses and doctors were just unbelievable,” said Coulter, who had never been a patient of UofL before her delivery. “The doctors and nurses were amazing and they were there for us non-stop. It was not like any experience I ever had with doctors or nurses before. It was the best experience it could possibly be under the worst possible circumstances.”

    Coulter’s family and others will be celebrated at UofL Hospital’s first NICU reunion on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A podium presentation is set for noon in the Glassroom located on the lower level near the cafeteria of the Ambulatory Care Building, 550 S. Jackson St. The event will bring together former patients, their families and the medical staff who cared for the infants.

    UofL Hospital’s Level III NICU provides care to more than 400 infants and their families each year. The patient population is diverse, representing numerous ethnicities and a spectrum of families from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Infants admitted to the NICU are treated for a variety of non-surgical disorders with a focus on neonatal nutrition, treatment of infants with drug withdrawal and care of extremely premature infants.

    Coulter, who lives in Spencer County, had planned to deliver Samantha and Samuel in her hometown of Cincinnati, but going into early labor on Sept. 24, 2018, brought her to UofL Hospital by ambulance.

    She was in labor for four days before delivering the babies by C-section. Delaying the delivery as long as possible allowed Coulter to be infused with magnesium and steroids, which supported the babies’ brain and lung development. They weighed a little more than 2 pounds each at birth.

    After Coulter was discharged, she and Travis spent every day the next two months driving an hour each way from their rural home to visit the twins. Nurses would wait for them to arrive, staying past their shifts to give Coulter updates in person.  

    Almost two months after giving birth, Coulter started having pain in her abdomen. One day while visiting her babies in the NICU, she stopped at the postpartum unit to ask if she needed to see a physician for the pain. As it turned out, she needed an emergency hysterectomy. Had she been home and not in the hospital, she could have been in danger of dying without the urgent surgical procedure.

    It was Coulter’s birthday the day after surgery, and in her patient room at UofL Hospital, the NICU nurses brought her balloons and cards from Samantha and Samuel that had their tiny footprints on them.

    “The NICU at UofL Hospital considers the whole health of the family – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. They’re there for you before you ask them to be,” Coulter said.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.