The last thing someone thinks of when welcoming a new baby into their lives is ending up in the intensive care unit.
But when it does happen, the dedicated and caring staff at NorthShore Evanston Hospital’s Henrietta Johnson Louis Infant Special Care Unit (ISCU) are there to help parents and their infants navigate that journey. The goal for all infants in the ISCU is to “graduate,” or to be discharged so they can be cared for in their homes.
To honor and celebrate those infants who have grown up to enjoy happy and healthy lives, the ISCU hosts a reunion picnic each summer where families and children reunite with the doctors, nurses and staff from the ISCU who cared for them during a critical time and gave them a healthy start in life.
A happy tradition returns
An annual event for nearly 50 years, the ISCU picnic typically attracts more than 500 attendees. The event was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it returns Sunday, June 25 at the NorthShore Skokie Hospital West Parking Lot to welcome back ISCU graduates and their families to celebrate their milestones together.
The event is organized through a partnership between the ISCU, hospital operations staff and The Associate Board of NorthShore University HealthSystem. Since 2014, The Associate Board has led volunteer efforts for the ISCU picnic, including finding sponsorships and donations to make the event as festive as possible for the families.
“Aside from our Annual Benefit event, this is our second biggest event of the year, and we could not be more excited to host the event this year!” said Dan Atwood, 2023 Associate Board president. “The ISCU picnic is such a heartwarming event that truly hits home for all the families, NorthShore employees and Associate Board members. It’s an opportunity to meet some of the families who are directly impacted by everyone’s efforts.”
Associate Board members volunteer to help run the event with the ISCU and the NorthShore Pediatrics staff. They also reach out to local grocery stores and contacts in the community to gather donated snacks and beverages for the event. In addition, Associate Board members gather donated auction items to raise funds that directly benefit the ISCU.
Since 2003, The Associate Board has raised more than $1 million for the ISCU and the Department of Pediatrics at Evanston Hospital through their various fundraising efforts, including their Annual Benefit.
Philanthropy generated by The Associate Board has launched vital patient care programs, supported groundbreaking academic studies, and led to the establishment of The Associate Board Emergency Family Fund—which provides direct support to underserved families through NorthShore’s Perinatal Family Support Center.
Fun for the whole family
The 2023 ISCU picnic was set up much like a summer block party, with a bounce house, arts and crafts activities, free snacks and beverages, and no shortage of fun.
The event included participation by a local Culver’s, which gave out free scoops of vanilla frozen custard and lemon ice to attendees, and Mark Vend Co. provided free snacks. The NorthShore “Simbulance”—an ambulance used for community outreach and other emergency training and prevention—made an appearance. And the Niles Township Early Childhood Alliance brought a booth with craft activities, as well as a “Story Walk” exhibit from the Morton Grove Public Library.
“We truly enjoy reconnecting with our former ISCU families. Many of them stay in the hospital for weeks or months, so they become like family to us. This event is a great way to come together again and to see how much our ISCU graduates have grown!” said Lynn M. Weiler, BSN, RNC-NIC, Clinical Nurse Manager, ISCU and Pediatrics, NorthShore Evanston Hospital.
The Associate Board organized nearly two dozen volunteers to help make sure the festivities went off without a hitch. It has become The Board’s signature volunteer event and one for which each board member feels grateful to contribute their time.
“We always have a great turnout of Associate Board volunteers because this event is so significant to the families and the ISCU staff members,” said The Associate Board Events & Volunteering Co-Chair Madelie Janse Van Rensburg. “We’re happy to provide extra hands and help make it a fun day for everyone.”
To learn more about The Associate Board of NorthShore University HealthSystem, please contact Monica Neururer, Manager of Associate Board & Communications, at 224.364.7618 or email@example.com.