Eva Melara
January 2022
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
University of Virginia Health
United States




We consider ourselves very blessed to have crossed paths with Eva.
Eva Melara provided immeasurably compassionate care for both my son and our family, to whom we will be forever grateful. We found out early on in my pregnancy that our son would be born with a congenital defect to his abdomen called Omphalocele which would require him to have an extended stay in the NICU upon birth due to complications related to his condition. On the day he was born, almost immediately after his birth the team assessed and stabilized him then whisked him away from the operating room to the NICU where he began his 82-day hospital stay.

When he was only a day or two old we were at the bedside visiting, overwhelmed by all of the lines and tubes attached to him and unsure of how to touch and interact with him. Eva was assigned as his nurse that day, she came to the bedside with us and patiently answered all of our questions and reviewed in detail the purpose of every line and procedure he required as well as the results of any tests he had done since birth. She was such a friendly face, was so gentle with him, and had such a calming presence that helped us feel at ease for the first time since he was born, we asked her that day if she would be a primary nurse for him and she agreed. From that point on she was our family's biggest advocate, coach, teacher, and so much more. Eva was essential with us from day one.

As brand new parents we really didn't know how to care for a newborn, let alone care for a child with special needs. We were so nervous to do anything with him. Eva took us under her wing and taught us everything we needed to know, from changing his diapers, giving him a bath, and even holding him for the first time, she was there for it all, patiently teaching, encouraging, and steadily instilling confidence in us to do things for him on our own. Every milestone she was there by our side just as excited as we were for every bit of progress made. She always involved us in every aspect of his care, making sure we fully understood the "why" behind everything and explaining any changes in detail. Every day she updated us on his progress and when the team rounded she took the time before and after to make sure we understood and were okay with everything. She always explained things in a way that helped us make decisions for our son that we felt good about.

Throughout his hospital stay, our son's health went through some ups and downs and at times he got sicker requiring extra care which made it extremely difficult to leave him. Eva cared for him in such a sweet gentle way, when she was working it gave us peace of mind to spend a little time at home to rest and take care of ourselves knowing that she would give him extra love and care in our absence. She never seemed to get frustrated with him and always took however long he needed to console, avoiding medicating him unless absolutely necessary. Our family called her the baby whisperer because she seemed to be able to calm him down when no one else could.

Eva is clearly a very strong clinician; she cared for him almost every day she worked so she learned his "normal" and many times was able to speak up and advocate when something was off. In one particular instance, his behavior didn't seem right, he was lethargic and throwing up amongst other things. This could have been explained away as a bad day by someone who was less experienced or didn't know him well; Eva knew something was wrong and promptly involved the physicians and explained her concerns. The physician team intervened right away trying to find a cause as well as starting treatment which kept him stable and from declining further. I believe her swift action and speaking up to get him treated right away prevented him from getting worse and potentially having further complications requiring a longer hospital stay.

On a weekly basis, she sought out new ways to promote developmentally appropriate growth in our son including finding toys and equipment that would build up his strength and keep him mentally stimulated. She made an active effort to constantly come up with new ideas and collaborate with us to help him live a life as normal as possible despite being stuck in the hospital. She noticed that his head shape was changing and got him a special hat to prevent further molding, sought out different clothes options to accommodate his body, took the time to sit him up in his special chair every day, and so many other little things that have made a long-lasting impact on his growth and development. He not only survived but thrived during his hospital stay due to the extra attention and support she and all of the NICU staff provided him.

We consider ourselves very blessed to have crossed paths with Eva, she made a life-long impact on our family and we will never forget the care she provided our son and the support she provided us. It meant so much to us that she genuinely cared about him and saw him as a person when so many seemed to just see him as his diagnosis. She is an amazing nurse that clearly touches the lives of many with her kind heart and the passionate care she provides her NICU babies, UVA is very lucky to have a nurse like her.