Families gather to celebrate the health of children born premature


MISSOULA, Mont. - This afternoon in Missoula's Caras Park more than one thousand families gathered to celebrate the health of their children who were born prematurely.

This is an event organized every five years by Community Medical Center's Neonatal Unit.

"We were in Missoula with my parents, going down to a doctor's appointment in Hamilton and Grace decided to join the world," explained Grace's mom, Carrie Bartos.

Carrie Bartos' daughter Grace was born at 30 weeks, which is two months before her due date.

She gives a lot of the credit to Grace's health to Community Medical Center's NICU Unit.

"The NICU, they were great. They made my family whole and they just kind of helped us through all the trials," said Bartos.

Community's NICU Unit deals primarily with premature babies like Grace, but it also admits full term babies with health issues like infection.

The length of stay is different for each baby. Grace stayed in the unit for three and a half months.

The Bartos family tells me they developed a bond with staff and other families during that time, which made Sunday's event so special.

"There was a boy next to Grace in the NICU, we just wanted to see him and see everybody. Be able just to share in the happiness that you know, all the kids are happy and healthy," said Bartos.

The hospital looks forward to this event.

"We all get so close while these babies are staying in our NICU so it's just nice to see people again," said Children Services Director, Kim Mckearnan.

Grace is now two and half years old. She still deals with some minor health issues, but she's like any toddler now, a little shy but healthy.