Home to the Washington, DC, metropolitan region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) ranked in the national top 10 by U.S. News and World Report, Children’s National Health System serves as a primary referral center for more than 40 hospitals in the region, and staffs four regional NICUs in Maryland and Virginia.
Providing the best care for our smallest patients requires a huge multidisciplinary team, or as NICU social worker Lauren Obidi calls it a “village to raise a child.”
A medical social worker at Children’s National since 2013, Obidi said the staff comes together to “support a patient and family through their NICU experience, and that team aspect is what makes it a great place to work.”
Obidi, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, said working in a NICU is both challenging and rewarding.
“The staff functions like a big family, supporting each other through all different situations,” she said. “We have the honor to work with families who are experiencing an extremely difficult time in their life and support them through the process of having a hospitalized child. My team of doctors, nurse practitioners, case managers, and nurses are outstanding and really supportive of each other.”
Visiting with NICU Graduates
Obidi said among the most memorable experiences she has include “families coming back to visit after long hospital stays.”
“I have one family who comes to visit me after every developmental appointment. He was one of my first patient’s at Children’s National and was really sick. He is doing amazingly well and now runs to give me a high five at every visit,” she said. “It honestly makes my day when he comes to visit.”
Helping Families Prepare to Leave the NICU
Some of Obidi’s other memorable experiences include celebrating when a patient meets a milestone or prepares to be discharged from the hospital.
“I also really enjoy when long-term patients are healthy enough to sit in a bouncy chair and interact with their surroundings,” she said.
“One memory that sticks out is of a patient who was here for five or six months, and whose family lived very far away. This patient would often be in a bouncy chair near the doorway and regularly you would see staff cooing, reading, and chatting with him. Watching this patient smile and engage with the staff when his parents were unable to sit bedside was pretty amazing.”
What amazes her most about her job is how on a daily basis she and her colleagues have the “honor to support families through a difficult life experience.
“We get to work with families whose newborns have an array of medical needs. Families allow us into their lives to provide support and help them navigate this experience,” she said. “I also learn so much from our families every day. They teach us about their culture and customs, make us laugh, and demonstrate their amazing strength and resilience.”
Learn more about the Division of Neonatology at Children’s National.