Phyllis Onofri

Phyllis Onofri

Phyllis Onofri, RN

NICU
Saint Peter's University Hospital
New Brunswick, New Jersey
United States
Phyllis was absolutely keen to be there the day he left NICU and took him on an endearing victory lap around the unit as if the victory was hers.

Phyllis has been there for my son from the very second he was born at 23 weeks. She was in the labor room that morning. Weighing 1 lb. 4 oz. with atelectasis in one lung and a growing pneumatocele in the other, vent running at highest dependence settings, she gave me hope at a time when hoping seemed foolish. She made him the most motivating cards, starting at day one, and hung them by his bedside. Four days post-birth, as he and I struggled, she gave me a card saying how we'd cross over to the other side together, to his recovery. The hope and happiness that card gave me at a moment when it was needed the most – this insightful and humane quality was most special about Phyllis.

My most heartening companion during the tough NICU days was a journal Phyllis gave me in the first week, seeing my state of resignation and hopelessness. Customized to document all key milestones, challenges, daily schedules, pictures, and gifts, it was her faith behind the gift that moved me. That I would fill in all stages, including the one with the date when he would go home!

His hernia surgery was being decided based on his stability day to day, after being off oxygen support for 128 days. Phyllis suggested and was keen to be with S the day the surgery would be scheduled. She was fully confident of his ability to sail through it. To be honest, her faith and very accurate reading of his capabilities, on more than once occasion, made me decide to have the surgery before his discharge. She was absolutely keen to be there the day he left NICU and took him on an endearing victory lap around the unit as if the victory was hers. It actually was. S started being able to regulate his own body temperature 3 months into his stay in the NICU. I could not be in the hospital that day, but that meant that Phyllis would get him the cutest outfit and make a memory card for me to savor it.

Her attention to detail pending test results, her empathy, and understanding of a parent's situation, her factual explanation and focus on the positives of the situation, the most meaningful and creative cards and simple unwavering faith in the child's ability to come out of the NICU, unscathed, was a blessing!