Many of the premature infants admitted to the ORMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit stay for weeks and even months as they grow and develop. This process can be trying and stressful for parents and extended family, especially if the family is from out of town. To help parents deal with the challenges associated with having a baby in our NICU, ORMC opened a special getaway for parents of NICU babies, called Caroline’s Room.
The room will be available most days for the use of all parents of NICU babies, and it will be made available to parents who have lost their child. We also use the room as a transition room for parents to spend the night with their infant, with nursing staff close at hand, before taking him home. It is also a place where parents can spend last moments of life with their baby.
The original Caroline’s Room was constructed in Yale’s Children’s Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut in 1998. In 1997 Gary Doyens and his wife, Jocelyn Maminta suffered the devastating loss of a baby girl in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Yale’s Children’s Hospital. Her name was Caroline Marie.
After spending so much time in the unit for the duration of Caroline’s care, the Doyens’ realized a space was needed within the NICU where parents could meet to discuss their child’s progress with medical personnel or to grieve privately.
Caroline’s Room was born from this experience. Gary and Jocelyn wanted to turn their loss into something positive to benefit other families with babies in the NICU. The hospital had a space and recognized the need so Jocelyn and Gary organized a gala—Caroline’s Gift to raise funds for renovation and decorating. The funds were used to provide a very warm and elegant room as a haven within the busy and often confusing NICU.
The couple moved to Lubbock in 2000 and approached the March of Dimes about the possibility of assisting with a similar project there. Both Covenant and University Medical Center Hospitals had room and embraced the idea.
In the fall of 2001 both new Caroline’s Rooms were opened in Lubbock. Parents and staff alike have found the rooms to be invaluable. Since then, Jocelyn and Gary have moved back to Connecticut along with their son Jonathan, and baby daughter, Campbell. Their legacy continues in West Texas however, as rooms continue to be established in honor and remembrance of Caroline Marie Doyens and in the hope that families can gain some strength and comfort from this wonderful gift.