It is my deepest belief that Nurse Julie Balalacao of the UCI NICU is a true DAISY Nurse. My experience with Julie ranges over 250 days spent in the NICU. I believe it was not a coincidence that Julie was assigned to Labor and Delivery on our fateful day. I believe it was because God put her there for my son G. Julie was my son's nurse on day 1, all the way through to day 250. Those 250 days Julie demonstrated all the qualities and dedication of a professional nurse as well as a person who takes great investment in her patients as well as the parents.
Julie was not just a nurse to my son and me, she was our superhero. Julie chose my son to be her primary patient. The first time I met her it was clear she was focused and determined to administer the best care she could for my son. Throughout his good days and his many days of infections and surgeries, Julie was the best advocate for G by exhibiting constant communication with the NICU staff regarding her findings, theories and or suggestive solutions for his bumps in the road.
As a first-time parent, with zero knowledge of the neonatal field of medicine, Julie listened to all my concerns albeit some may have been naïve and or frivolous but she listened and never once made me feel insubordinate or paranoid. She answered my questions to the best of her ability and if she could not provide an answer she immediately contacted the right physician who could. Julie ensured I was never left in the dark or feeling that I did not have a voice.
Through the emotional and frustrating days for me as my son grew more ill, she allowed me to vent, she showed me that she took interest in my emotions and within reason did what she could to help me understand the circumstances and the possible positive outcomes that lay ahead. Although Julie maintained professional, I felt comfortable knowing she cared and listened with her heart. She was the nurse who did what she could to meet the needs for my son, myself and my family as well. Julie helped me find clarity in my thoughts and fears so that I could be strong for G.
Shift by shift I was very impressed by how well Julie could read my son's queues and body language after only a week or two. On multiple occasions my son became very ill. A majority of his moments of illness were detected by Julie during her shifts because she ensured that she was familiar with his behavior and changes in color, temperature, body language. Her assessments of G were almost always accurate and her constant critical thinking skills, I believe, contributed to the multiple times my son's life was saved. Julie maintained persistence with the NICU team in regards to his conditions even if it meant calling the doctor over 15 times in a shift. Never once did I ever feel that Julie did not give her best 110% nursing while caring for my son shift by shift. Julie was committed to my son as his nurse, she even ensured she was working on critical days like his surgery because she knew him best and wanted to ensure he knew he was in good hands.
In between G's bad days, Julie always made sure his good days were the best days he had. There was a time period where my son was in so much pain he stopped moving his legs, his bones became very malnourished and he was not permitted any physical movement unless necessary, however, when it was Julie's shift she improvised with his delicate state of being in the safest way that she could. My son may have not been able to move physically but she made sure his crib was positioned by the window so he could see the sunshine and the helicopters landing and taking off. She moved his crib mirror and crib toys so that he had something to look at other than the ceiling. Julie made sure that my son did not spend 12 hours laying in his bed dormant but that he had 12 hours of colors, different light tones, different sounds. My son was unable to go out and enjoy life so Julie brought life to him as best as she could. No matter how sick he was, she spoke to him with joy and enthusiasm. Her energy was always vibrant and positive and I truly believe my son felt her energy and allowed him to bear through his pains and watch life as it was presented to him.
As G started to heal from his last surgery and his recovery became more and more of a success, Julie continued to assess his needs and abilities. As soon as he showed movement again, Julie ensured he was evaluated to start occupational therapy again as well as moving him from crib to swing, to floor to chair herself. Without saying words, I could visibly see that Julie believed G could achieve a successful recovery and that provided me more encouragement through my doubts because I respected her professionally and trusted her.
The 250 days my son spent in the NICU seemed like my life was standing still. I had no idea if he would recover, I had no idea if he would be healthy but I knew that so long as Julie remained his primary nurse, he would always have the best care because I knew she made sure each nurse assigned to him in her absence understood his critical and unique conditions. Julie went above and beyond her duties as a nurse to ensure the best care for my son. In addition, she did her best to make sure G still had stimulation, excitement, adventure, and love during his stay in the NICU. I attribute a huge amount of my son's success post NICU to the activity Julie provided during his NICU stay. My son's cognitive and speech evaluations post NICU were within his age range and I can't help but believe that Julie had a lot to do with that. I thank God every day that he blessed my son with the most amazing, caring, professional, assertive, loyal and determined nurse as his primary. I will forever be thankful for Julie as I truly believe she was an angel sent in blue scrubs to walk through the NICU path with my son and contribute to his successful exit. Julie is a great asset to the UCI NICU staff. Her level of professionalism, especially during critical crisis of her patients, exceeds beyond her level of duty. Julie truly outlines what the DAISY Award is founded on and she was the healing touch for my son and for me and my family.