UK HealthCare

UK HealthCare, KCH Staff Honor Lost Patients at Memorial Service

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image of flowers and candles at memorial service
image of people singing at memorial service
image of butterfly on child's hand

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2022) — Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) and UK's Birthing Center staff held their annual Spring Memorial Service on Sunday, April 24 at Manchester Music Hall in Lexington. This event, held in person for the first time since 2019, honors the memory of KCH ​and UK's Birthing Center patients who have passed in the last year while continuing to honor those lost in previous years.

Staff from KCH and UK HealthCare joined families as they celebrated the memories of babies and children who have died. 

“Each family was invited to bring a flower up front and place into a vase when their child's name was read,” said Michelle Steele, registered nurse and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and Labor and Delivery Bereavement Chair. “At the end of the service, this made a beautiful arrangement. Families and staff were able to see that they are not alone.”

The service also included a number of readings, including poems read by Wendy Hansen, M.D., chair of UK HealthCare’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, KCH nurses and parents who have lost a child. The KCH Child Life team read the book “The Invisible String,” and KCH physician-in-chief Scottie B. Day, M.D., and Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) Advanced Practitioner Registered Nurse Adrienne Johnston performed music. 

“The Spring Memorial Service has become more interactive over the years,” said Anna Bullard, clinical social worker who has helped organize the event over the years. “This year, I watched as families connected after the service who I had met in different units of KCH. Regardless of whether they lost an infant or teenage child, the families find support not only from staff but from one another.”

The service concluded with a bereavement candle lighting, music and a butterfly release. 

“No one dreams of losing a child, but this is a reality to a lot of us,” said Lauren Johnson, a parent who attends the memorial every year in honor of her son. “Unimaginable things can happen. We miss those babies every day, but events like this help keep their memory alive and forever be loved.”

Bereavement support information was made available, and families were gifted a potted flower to take home. 

“The prayers, songs, readings, slideshow and all the take-home elements were beautiful, therapeutic and treasured,” said parents Kayla and Ryan Jones. “We so appreciate them.”

The Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) provides palliative care services for children with serious illness and their families. 

Click here for more information about UK HealthCare’s Pastoral Care, bereavement resources and future memorial events.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.