A NICU that delivers hope - and miracles

Since 1941, the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has provided the highest level of care for premature or seriously ill babies across south-central Illinois. With the knowledge and resources available, we focus on not only helping babies survive despite their seemingly insurmountable odds, but also thrive.

Funds raised through the 2017 Toast of the Town parties will allow us to provide NICU families with greater peace of mind knowing the most technologically advanced, family-centered neonatal care is available right here, close to home.


Lucy DeFrain was born at HSHS St. John’s Hospital as a micro-preemie, weighing just 1.25 lbs. Born three months to the day before her due date, Lucy was initially given just a 50/50 chance of survival. She spent 119 days in the NICU. With the help of the NICU health care team Lucy overcame every obstacle, growing a bit more each day to survive and thrive.

Lucy is now a happy, healthy kindergartner who shows no lasting effects of her prematurity. She loves dinosaurs, singing and cats and is a ray of sunshine. “Our family will be forever grateful to the staff at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital who cared for her during those first harrowing days of her fragile life,” says her mom, Megan. “She has had a miraculous recovery.”

Vernessa Glover is executive director of HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital and Women's Services. Here is her story.

Kori and Kai

As we prepared for the birth of our twins, my husband and I couldn’t have been more excited. We planned everything. Delivery day, our plans changed.

Our girls were delivered by cesarean section. After Kai was born, they put her on my chest and we were so excited. Then Kori was born but we didn’t get to meet her right away. She came out slightly blue with a weak cry and went straight to the NICU. This wasn’t part of our plan. We were scared.

The next day, Kai was also transferred to the NICU to better manage her blood glucose levels. Now both of our girls were away from us as I recovered from my C-section. None of this was part of our plan.

A NICU visit is rarely part of any parent’s plan and it can be scary. However, the compassion our family received from the care team made this unplanned experience meaningful. The nurses and doctors were amazing. They kept us informed and helped us cope, emotionally and physically.

To learn more about Toast of the Town, email Allyson Strauch or call her at (217) 814-5723.