There’s nothing better than a party with a purpose!
This past week, I was honored to attend RBaby Foundation’s Food and Wine Gala at the Plaza in NYC. Although the reason we were gathered in a beautiful venue, with the best food and wine in the city, was because of the heartbreaking loss of a precious baby girl, named Rebecca, the event was a celebration. A celebration of 5 years of saving babies’ lives, in baby Rebecca’s name! The event was brought to life by an amazing group of people. Two of them, Julia Beck and Rebecca Levey, are women I know and respect greatly. Julia Beck was honored at the Gala with the RBaby Champion Award for her dedication and work with the Foundation over the years. Rebecca Levey, one of the chairpersons for the event, organized the social media effort in promoting the gala through the blogger community. I feel honored to know both these amazing women.
This weekend, Mother’s Day, I thought long and hard about what I could write that would convey to you how deeply I was moved by this organization and its founders. In the end, I did find the words, but they were not mine. Instead, I would like to share the words of Phyllis and Andrew Rabinowitz, baby Rebecca’s parents and RBaby founders. Please take a moment to read their letter and enjoy a recap of the evening in pictures below.
Make sure to visit R Baby Foundation and sign the petition to Demand that your Emergency Department is prepared for your child! >HERE
A LETTER FROM R BABY FOUNDATION’S FOUNDERS
Our daughter Rebecca Ava would have turned 5 years old last July. But instead of celebrating with a party in the backyard, we visited her small grave and prayed for her peace. We remember it like it was yesterday: the happy nine months of pregnancy, the smile on Andrew’s face when they said “It’s a girl!”, and then, the tragic nightmare that unfolded when her life ended at nine days old.
Losing a child at any age is excruciatingly painful. Losing a child when better available healthcare could have saved her life is unbearable. We remember pleading with the emergency room doctor that something was wrong. We knew she was sicker than the normal newborn congestion: she was lethargic, not feeding well and wheezing, but we were made to feel neurotic by the physicians we trusted to take care of her.
When she was misdiagnosed as having a common cold, we’ll never forget the last words from the doctor: “Let me get to the real emergency down the hall.” Rebecca’s autopsy revealed she had an enteroviral infection, which older children can easily fight off, but can be fatal in newborns. If only the doctors knew how sick she really was.
We have learned so much in the past five years about pediatric emergency care. We learned that babies are not mini-adults. They require specialized medical training and equipment. Their immune systems are different. Babies within the first 28 days of life are twice as likely to die as older children. They show symptoms differently than if the same virus was in an older child, and rapid, correct diagnosis and immediate treatment are imperative. Emergency Room doctors must be properly trained and confident while treating infants; every minute can make the difference between a life or death outcome.
We learned that most emergency rooms are not equipped to take care of babies and young children, and that even though an ER claims to be a Pediatric Emergency Room (PED), there is no uniform definition. Each may have varying degrees of trained specialists and equipment—and there is very little clarity provided to parents on how to identify the differences. While we encourage all families to research their emergency room options, R Baby is also lobbying for a definition of Pediatric Emergency Rooms on a leveled system similar to Trauma Centers— resolving this issue by uniting with hospitals, children’s organizations, and families.
We also learned that improving communication between families and doctors can mean all the difference in diagnosis and treatment: medical errors do occur and miscommunication is the primary reason. We help parents become advocates for their babies, and to seek out multiple opinions.
With our daughter’s passing came R Baby’s birth. To date, R Baby Foundation has raised over $5 million, and more than 90% of every dollar spent is on grants directed to saving babies’ lives. We improve healthcare for all infants nationwide with life-saving grants that focus on effective pediatric ER and neonatal training programs, including simulation technology, rapid detection and diagnosis of viruses, family/doctor communication programs, and more. We work hard to maximize our donors’ dollars. For example, our simulation training grant works with all top ten children’s hospitals and is impacting healthcare in nearly 100 hospitals nationwide. We have been amazed with the passion our doctors bring to our grant programs.
Our goal is to ensure that every emergency room across the country is prepared to properly care for babies and young children by either correctly diagnosing and treating the infant, or stabilizing and transporting the infant to a hospital that is equipped to treat that child. We want to make it mandatory that a physician have relevant training until they are proven competent and confident in infant emergency situations any time they touch a baby.
We know that we are not alone in our mission. The infant mortality rate still remains high right here at home, with approximately 30,000 babies dying each year in the U.S. We have spoken to many families who have lost babies of their own; they encourage us to keep the cause alive in memory of their babies.
And when we hear many survival stories with high quality pediatric emergency care including that of Meredith Hall and Everett Tompkins—two babies under 10 days old who were properly treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado for the same virus that caused Rebecca’s death—it gives us hope that if we continue to raise awareness and funds to ensure every baby gets the best healthcare available, together we can make a real difference.
We have been humbled by the donor, sponsor and volunteer outreach from individuals like yourselves. And, we hope you will join us and our amazingly dedicated board and the generous chefs who have committed to our cause. Let’s celebrate five years of saving babies’ lives together, and continue to join together to make sure no other family loses a baby unnecessarily.
Phyllis and Andrew
In Loving Memory of Rebecca, 7/13-7/21/06
photo credit for above images and 1st row images below: Micahel Jurick
‘RBaby Mom” photos are courtesy of WeLovePhotobooths.com – check out the site for a photo booth at your next party