Rhea DiBernardo was born on Aug. 26, 2013 at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, incredibly small at 1lb. 10oz. and 13 inches long. Arriving 15 weeks premature, she would not leave Magee’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) until November, just before Thanksgiving.

DiBernardo_Rhea_NICU_2014Her parents, Cynthia and Jonathan, were not expecting this devastating turn of events. Her pregnancy had been healthy until that point, and their older daughter was born full term. Now, in celebration of Rhea’s first birthday, they are teaming up with Bob Evans Restaurants, where Jonathan works as an assistant manager, to make a difference for other NICU babies and their families.

It is important to Rhea’s parents, Cynthia and Jonathan, to have this opportunity to give back to a place that gave them so much comfort in a very dark time. The caregivers at Magee all made a positive impact on Cynthia. She describes all of the doctors as “open, honest, and down-to-earth,” and was comforted by the time they would spend answering questions. She was especially impressed by Dr. Jennifer Kloezs. She said: “She really touched me and was a friend.”

Friend. That’s a word that Cynthia uses often to describe the people who mentored and counseled her along her NICU journey. She calls the receptionists friends. They always greeted her with a smile and made her feel welcome.

DiBernardo_Rhea_OneYear_2014The NICU nurses were more than friends. They treated Rhea with such love and attention that Cynthia would leave the hospital knowing her baby was in good hands. She was always confident that they would care for Rhea “as if she was their child…was one of their own.”

Now, Rhea is doing well–crawling, pulling up on the furniture, and brightening her home with her beautiful smile and happy disposition!

While the caregivers at Magee will always give kindness and comfort to those they serve, they are helped tremendously by the generosity of grateful patients and grateful families.