1500 North Ritter Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46219
When Mary fastened her two week-old grandson Elijah into his car seat at Community Hospital East, she couldn’t help but reflect on her gratitude for the support she had received in recent days.
About two weeks earlier, Mary had received a call from a Community East nurse. She learned her daughter had delivered a baby boy on July 2 but had abandoned him in the hospital the day after her emergency C-section. She has substance use disorder, and the baby had been exposed to heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Mary’s heart dropped. In recent years, she had tried repeatedly to get her daughter help, but to no avail. She and her husband Eric were already raising their daughter’s eight year-old child. While they knew their daughter was pregnant again, they had been told the baby was due in September. Mary immediately left home for the hospital. There, she learned her grandson had no prenatal care, was delivered full-term and that his stay at the hospital was expected to last two months.
Without hesitating, Mary and Eric began taking steps to secure guardianship of their grandson, whom they named Elijah. Four days after they learned of him, they went to court and were granted guardianship.
For a couple whose children are all grown and out of the house, preparing for a newborn was overwhelming. Coupled with the fact that Mary and Eric – who works full-time – are on a fixed income, they didn’t know where or how to begin.
Luckily, their community and Community Health Network rallied around them.
“Our whole community has come together to support us,” she said. “From donations of diapers, clothes and even a crib, we have seen an outpouring of love and support from people we both know and don’t know.”
Just a little more than two weeks after Elijah was born, Mary learned he would be released to come home—much sooner than had been anticipated.
One item they had not yet secured was a car seat. Often, hand-me-down car seats can have an unknown past and no longer be effective. For example, if a car seat is involved in a car accident, a new car seat should be obtained for safety purposes. Fortunately, Community Health Network’s car seat program, made possible by donors to Community Health Network Foundation, helped to fill that need.
“Just a few days before we were able to take Elijah home, we learned about the free car seat program,” she said. “We didn’t know he would be home so early, and we were nervous trying to figure out what to get. Thanks to this program, we now have everything we need to care for him.”
Mary is tremendously grateful for the care her grandson received since his birth. The nurses and physicians in Community East’s maternity department typically care for multiple babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome – a group of challenges a baby will face because they have been regularly exposed to drugs throughout the pregnancy. Symptoms can include shaking, uncontrollable crying, sneezing and physical pain.
“I don’t know how they do it,” Mary said. “I would try to take all of these babies home.”
“These nurses are amazing,” she added. “There is no judgment. They know I didn’t raise my daughter to behave this way, and they have shown me nothing but love and support. I’ve cried because I’m going to miss them so much. They have been here to wipe my tears and hold my baby—it’s clear how much they love the children in their care.”
For Mary, a shocking and scary situation turned around thanks to her community and the employees and donors of Community Health Network.
“Without them, children like Elijah wouldn’t have a chance,” she said. “So many people have told us that they don’t know how he has made it through this. It’s been a rough road, but God made a miracle.”