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NICU Family Advisory Council

After going through the experience of having a child in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mercyhealth, many parents wanted to help families who would come after them. The NICU Family Advisory Council was created and now those parents work with our staff members, dedicated to making the NICU experience the best it can be for families of current and future babies. We do this by:

  • Using our NICU experience to help guide the NICU staff in the development of practices that meet the needs of families in the NICU,
  • Encouraging families to take an active role in their babies care while working with the NICU staff, and
  • Suggesting and developing programs that support the concepts of patient and family-centered care.

The NICU Family Advisory Council members meet monthly to discuss the needs of the NICU families and staff. We develop projects to meet these identified needs, helping to make the NICU experience the best it can be for the families and NICU staff.

To contact the NICU Family Advisory Council, please call (815) 971-5257.

Message from the NICU Family Advisory Council


We are parents of NICU babies though our stories are all very different. Some of us were in the hospital for months, and some for several weeks. Some of our children show no signs now of their prematurity or early struggles, and others have some challenges. Some of us endured losses and some had an uncomplicated time with our babies in the NICU.

We have all been forever changed by this experience, and we all love our children more than we ever could have imagined. Our babies are home with us now, but our gratitude and hearts will always be with the people who cared for our babies. That is the reason we serve on the NICU Family Advisory Council, a parent-to-parent support network. We offer our unique perspective to the doctors, nurses and people you see every day. Our partnership with them helps to provide the best care for families in the NICU. We remember what it is like to stand in your shoes and see through your eyes. We are here to listen and offer our support to you during your baby’s stay in the NICU.

While there are many ways to cope, we found the most comfort from connecting with a parent who had a baby in the NICU. You can choose to meet with one of us at any time during your baby’s hospital stay.

Contact us by phone at (815) 971-5257. One of us will call or email you and arrange a time that is best for you.

Thank you.
NICU Family Advisory Council

NICU Family Advisory Council Members


Christina Bergin is the mom of two children. Her second child Emma was born at 27 weeks, 5 days, weighed 2 pounds, 9 ounces and was 14.25 inches long. On her second day in the NICU, Emma experienced pulmonary bleeding and was put on an oscillator. With the exceptional care of the nurses and doctors, she overcame that obstacle and continued to grow stronger and healthier each day. It was not easy having one child at home and one in the hospital, but she and her husband fell into a routine that worked for them. After 70 days, Emma came home. Christina serves on the Family Advisory Council and parent support group to give back and support other families during their stay in the NICU.

NICUAnne is the proud mom of fraternal twin boys, Jack and Joey. At 31 weeks, 5 days, she delivered her boys via C-section. The boys were in the NICU for seven and eight weeks. Anne was there all day, every day, doing everything she was able to with their care. Each day she walked into the NICU, she hoped she’d get the good news that the boys could go home. It happened 50+ days later. Having two newborns in the NICU was a scary and challenging time, but these days the memories are happy ones. Not a day goes by that Anne doesn’t think of the wonderful nurses she met and the excellent care given to her boys. Anne serves on the Family Advisory Council in order to support NICU families during their journey. She is a wealth of information for parents of twins.

Angie and Brett are parents of Evan and Faith, twins born at 23 weeks, 5 days, weighing 1 pound, 2 ounces. After three days, Faith passed away and became Evan’s guardian angel. Evan endured many procedures, surgeries and scary moments in the NICU. After seven months, Evan came home, requiring oxygen and a feeding tube. Angie and Brett, though scared, learned the necessary treatments to care for their son at home. Angie and Brett are grateful for the amazing team of therapists that have worked with Evan, supporting his development during the past years. Brett and Angie joined the Family Advisory Council to help other parents navigate their journey of not-so-normal birth and care of their babies. They see the parent’s group as the perfect way to stay connected and give back to the people that became their family in the months that Evan was in the NICU.

Jennifer is the mom of two sons. After almost losing her second baby at 14 weeks, her pregnancy was considered high risk and she was closely monitored weekly at Mercyhealth Hospital-Rockton Avenue, one hour from her home. At 34 weeks, precious Brycen was delivered due to IUGR, weighing only 3 pounds, 11 ounces. Although not known until he was born, Brycen’s IUGR was due to placental abruption. Brycen spent 28 days in the NICU. He is now a busy two-year-old and has come a long way since his stay in the NICU. This experience has forever changed Jennifer and she enjoys helping NICU families through her active role as a member on the Family Advisory Council.

Ashley and Toby are parents of Ava, born by emergency C-section at 24 weeks, 3 days, weighing 15.5 ounces. Ava was a fighter during her 137 day NICU journey. She was given Avastin injections in each of her eyes, followed by laser surgery, treatment for retinopathy of prematurity. On June 21, 2014, Ava said goodbye to the NICU staff and came home with the help of oxygen and an apnea monitor. Ava and Toby serve on the Family Advisory Council to support and encourage other NICU parents. One of their favorite quotes is, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

NICULauren is the mom of a daughter born at 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 8 ounces, and measuring 12 inches. During the 181 days her sweet Nora was in the NICU, she experienced several conditions: chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease and retinopathy of prematurity. She underwent two surgeries, one of which required a complicated recovery period. Although Lauren knows no two families have the exact same story, NICU parents share the heartache of watching their sweet babies fight for their lives. Lauren serves on the Family Advisory Council to support families during their journey of parenting in the NICU.

Shirley is the mother of two children, Olivia and her older brother Jeremiah. Olivia was born at 39 weeks and went home with mom at discharge. After 21 days, she was admitted to the pediatric unit for failure to thrive, diagnosed with an imperforated anus, sent home with a treatment plan awaiting surgery in three months. After five days, she was readmitted to the hospital, this time into the NICU. During Olivia’s five weeks in the NICU, Shirley was very active in Olivia’s painful pre-surgery treatment. She learned how to advocate for her baby during the ups and downs of being home, admitted to the hospital and then readmitted yet again. Shirley loves supporting parents in their role of caring for their baby in the NICU.

NICUBecky is the mom of triplets. Colin, Kaitlyn and Nathan, who were born at 32 weeks 3 days gestation. Though Becky knew that they were in the best place possible to finish growing before they were ready to come home, it didn’t make the daily roller coaster of emotions any easier to navigate. Each baby’s NICU experience was unique with different successes and setbacks, ultimately resulting in Colin, Kaitlyn and Nathan being discharged on different days. Although you are surrounded by babies, other families, countless machines, the NICU can feel like such a lonely place. The prospect of making the NICU journey even slightly better for someone through lending an ear or a shoulder attracted Becky to serve on the Family Advisory Council. She is especially helpful to families blessed with triplets.

Randi is the mother of Samuel. After suffering a pre-eclamptic seizure, Samuel was born by an emergency cesarean section at 30 weeks, weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces. During his 58-day stay in the NICU, she experienced all the emotions of being a mom of a preemie while traveling one hour to and from the hospital. Today Samuel is a bright, thriving toddler. Randi cherishes her time as a mom and shares in the fact that she and her husband are blessed in life. Randi loves giving back to the NICU and to families who may have to go through the NICU.


Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside

8201 E. Riverside Blvd.
Rockford, IL 61114

Phone: (815) 971-7000
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