New Support Group for Parents after Death of Unborn or Newborn Child

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St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, PA Launches Support Group for Parents Suffering the Loss of an Unborn Child.

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Creating a support group is a good place to start a group to help others affected by this kind of loss.

September 2019 - The death of an unborn child is an experience no parent should have to endure. The shocking and unfortunate reality is this happens in 25 percent of pregnancies. Couples find various paths to coping and healing following their nightmare.

When JR and Jena Kushnir’s unborn daughter, Madison Claire, passed away due to an umbilical cord accident just days before her due date, Valentine’s Day in 2018, the couple cried, slipped into shock, put away the baby clothes and toys meant for their daughter and searched for solace and hope from professionals and families like themselves.

They also encouraged St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where JR works in medical simulation, and where Madison Claire was delivered, to establish a support group for grieving parents. The hospital’s perinatal and infant loss resources did not include formal services for supporting parents who leave the hospital empty handed and broken hearted.

“We wanted to work with St. Luke’s to make positive changes in Madison’s memory,” JR said.
He sent the hospital president an email, saying, “Creating a support group is a good place to start a group to help others affected by this kind of loss.”

The president “called me that same day to express her sympathy and tell me that the hospital would form a group,” JR recalled. A social worker/therapist was hired to moderate the group, and just months later, the first meeting of the hospital’s Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group convened in one of the conference rooms at the Anderson (Bethlehem Township) campus. The support group meets monthly.

The sharing and caring that takes place at their monthly meetings has brought the Kushnirs comfort and close to other couples and families that have suffered similar loss. Some of them come and talk the entire time, while others just sit and listen, JR says. “There’s not one way to grieve,” he says. “But helping others helped us to heal.”

So much so that they felt ready to try to start a family again. On May 29, 2019, Charlotte Rose, their “Rainbow Baby,” joined JR and Jena. “She was born at 37 weeks, and that was 37 weeks of anxiety,” says the proud dad of two.

“We soak up every second we can with Charlotte,” says JR. “We always tell her about how she was handpicked for Earth by her big sister, and that in her brief life, Madison made such positive changes.”

Media Contact:
Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and 300 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 34 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 263 residents and fellows. St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke’s hospitals. St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.

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Melissa Chefec
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