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Inspiring Stories

‘That’s My Calling’: Methodist Fremont Health Nurse Honored for Care of Newborn Dubbed ‘Miracle Mills’ and His First-Time Parents

Published: Nov. 30, 2021
Mills Moline - Alicia Zoucha DAISY Award
Mills Moline was born at Methodist Fremont Health on Jan. 14.

It wasn’t the birth that Kassie Moline and her husband, Jared, expected.

Kassie, a preschool teacher in Wahoo, taught her class as usual on Jan. 14. That same day, the couple also assembled a dresser in the nursery for their son, Mills, who wasn’t due for nearly two more weeks.

When Kassie started experiencing contractions, she wasn’t convinced it was time. Outside, snow was falling, and high winds would have made travel difficult from their home near Ithaca to Methodist Fremont Health. Then her water broke.

The Molines made it to the hospital and soon faced another challenge. When Karen Lauer-Silva, MD, delivered Mills, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck four times. He was quickly taken to the nursery for specialized care, but he’d already made an impression on hospital staff.

“We don’t often see a baby with the cord around the neck four times,” said Alicia Zoucha, BSN, RN, C-EFM, CLC, a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse. “To be quite frank, that’s pretty miraculous that he’s alive. I literally was like, ‘Thank you, God, for taking care of this baby.’”

Zoucha, who cared for the Molines over the next three days, dubbed the newborn “Miracle Mills.” Little did she know that she was about to make just as big of an impact on the whole family.

 

Alicia Zoucha, BSN, RN
Alicia Zoucha

Caring for the Whole Family

As Mills recovered from his rocky entry into the world, Zoucha worked to make the family as comfortable as possible. That included placing special emphasis on Jared.

“If you involve the family and involve that dad, you can set them up for better success when they’re at home,” Zoucha said. “He’s such a part of care for that baby and mom. I try to make sure that Dad feels welcome. My dads get water pitchers. My dads get beds. And they’re part of the care.”

As a mother of two herself, Zoucha enjoyed helping the family practice new skills like breastfeeding and infant bathing. Kassie said she appreciated how Zoucha took the lead in explaining things to the first-time parents.

 “I feel like she just made it an experience for us,” Kassie said. “We weren’t just in and out of there. She made sure we got the whole experience and made it enjoyable.”

Said Zoucha: “That’s my calling, to help these moms and babies. It’s just so cool to see them, help walk them through all those stages and answer their questions, and just be there. That just fills my bucket, to see them so happy and have good care, and to bring this new baby into the world.”

 

Mills Moline - Alicia Zoucha DAISY Award
"Miracle Mills" will turn 1 in January.

‘This Is Why I Do My Job’

Kassie was so impressed by the care at Methodist Fremont Health that she wrote a note of thanks to hospital leaders. She commended the staff for saving Mills’ life and called Zoucha’s care “a blessing” before ending with: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The note was read aloud earlier this month as Zoucha was surprised with The DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses for their extraordinary skill and compassion.

“I’m pretty honored,” Zoucha said. “I knew that we had this special bond. You can just feel it when you bond with a patient and a family. This is why I do my job.”

When Kassie learned that Zoucha was recognized, the memories from Mills’ birth came flooding back.

“I’m just grateful,” she said. “Alicia was just real easygoing, and we were blessed to have her. She went above and beyond. You could tell she really cared about our care and our experience.”

Mills has come a long way since January, and today he’s thriving as he nears his first birthday.

“He’s rambunctious and has a good personality,” Kassie said. “I feel like Alicia would just love him.”

For Zoucha, knowing her care helped set the family on the path to success means everything.

“Childbirth is an experience that you’re always going to remember,” she said. “It’s once in a lifetime. So when I see someone have a great experience, there’s nothing more thrilling.”

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About the Author

Patrick Smith, a content strategist for Methodist Health System, has over a decade of experience writing and editing for newspapers and other publications. He enjoys meeting new people and telling stories that highlight Methodist's mission to deliver The Meaning of Care.

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