Baby Jayden is a fighter. Those are the words of his mother, Joan Parry. Jayden was born at just 23 weeks on June 19th at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial. His family calls him a “miracle baby”. Like most NICU moms, Joan wasn’t expecting an early delivery or the extremely challenging months in the NICU that would follow. “I was scared. Crying a lot. But everyone said he will be Ok. I try to stay positive, so nothing goes wrong. I know God is here.”
Joan is a single mom and took an unpaid leave of absence from her work in a call center to be with Jayden, her firstborn. It sounds like such a simple wish from a mom with a critically ill baby. But Joan doesn’t own a car and doesn’t have access to public transportation. She has had to rely on her twin brother, who works full time, to take her to the hospital to visit her son. “It was very difficult. I couldn’t go as often as I wanted because I didn’t have rides. I had to wait.”
Joan qualified for ICU baby’s Transportation Assistance Program, which provides monthly bus passes, private rides, or hospital parking and gas stipends to families who are unable to visit their babies often because of the financial burden of the baby’s NICU stay. Recipients are able to reapply for aide each month. Joan received a month’s stipend for private rides to and from the hospital. These rides are managed by partner Ride2MD, which uses companies like Lyft to provide the transportation. Now Joan will be able to call for a ride when she wants to visit her baby boy. “I am excited about the program. Sometimes my brother can’t take me. And I want to give him a break.”
The mission of the program is to help parents get to the hospital so their babies aren’t alone. Joan has had to return to work to support her only child. But with this assistance she is now able to visit him more often. And the best news, she says, is that her “fighter” is winning his battle.