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Philanthropy from the Heart: Pudlo’s Gift Supports NICU Families

Ron and Jean PudloWhen Jean Pudlo, consultant for non-profit organizations, and her husband, Ronald Pudlo, MD, Cone Health’s former chief of pediatric service and a pediatrician with Greensboro Pediatricians, toured the new Cone Health Women’s & Children’s Center at Moses Cone Hospital, she suddenly felt her gut tighten and a wave of emotion wash over her. Standing in a neonatal intensive care (NICU) room, where parents can stay with their medically-fragile newborns, the couple immediately knew their planned philanthropic donation had found a home.

Visiting a NICU room, which will bear their name, brought back a rush of memories for the couple whose firstborn child spent her first two weeks being cared for in a NICU.

Ron and Jean Pudlo

When Jean was pregnant with their first child, they were living in rural South Carolina where her husband was the only pediatrician in the county. Arriving 2 weeks late, their daughter, who weighed 9 pounds 10 ounces at birth, was delivered by c-section and appeared healthy.

“Apparently, during my labor and c-section, I was running a fever,” Jean vividly remembers.

When concerns were raised about the potential impact of Jean’s fever on her newborn, additional testing revealed her daughter had contracted Group B Strep, a bacterial infection.

“Our daughter was transferred to the NICU at a hospital in another town where she was given intravenous antibiotics and stayed 2 weeks,” adds Jean.

She recalls how stressful and exhausting it was to recover in separate hospitals in different towns. At the same time, her husband was balancing fatherhood, hospital visits and the needs of his patients, who had no other pediatrician to call upon.

“Even once I was released from the hospital, I couldn’t drive because I was recovering from a c-section,” says Jean. “Church and community members took me to and from the hospital so I could visit our daughter in the NICU. In those days, you could visit, spend time with the baby and deliver pumped breast milk, but you couldn’t stay overnight.”

Having endured the hardship of separation from their daughter while she was in the NICU, the Pudlos appreciate the importance of families being able to bond with, care for and stay with their babies in Cone Health’s thoughtfully-designed NICU rooms, which afford both privacy and the latest evidence-based care.

“While our daughter was only in the NICU for 2 weeks to receive medication, many families’ babies are in the NICU dealing with much more critical issues and may stay weeks,” concludes Jean. “It’s so stressful. When families can room-in with their NICU newborns, their babies get a healthy, loving start that benefits them for a lifetime.”