Each baby boy in the Kennett family got the lifesaving help he needed at the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center, part of Monmouth Medical Center.
Over an eight-year period, Michael and Mackenzie Kennett of Freehold discovered firsthand the high standards at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center at Monmouth Medical Center. Each of their four boys needed specialized care there.
The Kennetts’ first child, Max, born at 26 weeks, spent four and a half months in the NICU. “He was so tiny that he didn’t even look like a baby,” says Mackenzie. “He had ruby red skin and was hooked up to so many tubes.” Max underwent serious surgeries on his lungs and intestines, with his prognosis changing from day to day.
“Because Max was our first, he was the hardest,” says his father, Michael. “But the medical team was amazing. They told us what they would be doing, step by step, before they did it, along with the probable outcomes.”
“They called me about the smallest things, just to let me know what was happening,” Mackenzie remembers. “They’d sit with me and rub my shoulder and listen to me cry. You could tell that they actually cared about, not just for our child.”
The Kennetts’ next son, Colton, now age 4, was born at 36 weeks and wasn’t expected to require extra care. However, his breathing was labored from fluid retention in his lungs following Caesarean birth, and spent nine days at the NICU while his problem was stabilized.
Finally, twins Pacey and Calum, born at 34 weeks, had to remain at the center for eight and nine days, respectively, in order to regulate their body temperatures.
Today, all four boys are thriving. Mackenzie and Michael agree that the unit’s exceptional caregivers made all the difference.
Partners with Parents
Diane Attardi, MD, is one of these caregivers. A neonatologist who has been specially trained to care for the high-risk, complex cases of newborns, she’s part of a team of doctors, therapists, case managers and clerks who provide compassionate, family-oriented care.
“The beauty of my job is that I’m able to form these types of relationships with families,” says Dr. Attardi, who has worked in the unit since 1999. “We’ve been given a gift in working so closely with parents and newborns.
“Of course, the Kennetts were unique in having four infants from their family in our care, starting with Max,” she continues. “The little guy was so sick and so fragile—and she had to relinquish his care to us. Mackenzie was such a staunch advocate for Max, but I always felt that she trusted us.”
50 Years of Saving Babies
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center (RNC) at The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center is one of the nation’s top neonatal intensive care centers. The RNC at Monmouth Medical Center provides specialized care for more than 500 babies a year. At the same time, it has retained its family-centered focus, treating parents and family members with compassion and respect.
The unit has one of the highest survival rates in the country. In addition to prematurity, it treats such conditions as congenital disorders and low birth weight. Patients at the Newborn Center are among the tiniest and most fragile infants; in fact, they can be as small as 1 pound and as young as 23 weeks.
As a part of the NICU’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Kennett Family and members of Monmouth Medical Center’s NICU clinical team were honored on the field at the Lakewood BlueClaws’ First Energey Park during the August 3 pregame ceremony for the team’s “Amazing Saves” promotion.
To see the Kennett boys in action, view our video at https://www.rwjbh.org/patient-stories/the-kennett-family-four-of-a-kind/. To learn more about the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center, call (732) 923-7250.
All Photos: Provided by RWJBarnabas Health