Sacred Heart hosts annual event to raise money for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 09:39 AM.

Rachel Newkirk wasn't expecting to have her first child at 26 weeks.

After being rushed to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola for unbearable back pain and then admitted to a room, her daughter's heartbeat stopped. Almost immediately, doctors rushed Newkirk to have an emergency C-section and found she had been bleeding internally. Born at 2 pounds and four ounces, her daughter, Addison, had to be resuscitated and was moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she stayed for 74 days.

The average stay is 17 days according to Sacred Heart's website.

At the time, the Newkirks were living in Pensacola, where the Sacred Heart NICU is located. Rachel says they were very fortunate to have such exceptional care close by. Sacred Heart's NICU is the only Level III NICU in Northwest Florida and just one in 12 in the state of Florida. Families from Miramar Beach, Destin, Crestview, Panama City Beach, Jay, and Holt rely on Sacred Heart for special, specific care for babies born prematurely or critically ill.

"They have phenomenal care there," she said. "Without them here, we'd have to travel to larger cities like Atlanta or Jacksonville to find a Level III NICU."

Now, the Newkirks are Santa Rosa Beach residents and Addison — or Addy Beth as she is called — is a healthy and happy 23-month-old.

"She's normal besides the fact she's a teeny, little tot," Rachel said as Addy Beth coos in the background.

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