She said many parents do not know NICU families can park free at Women and Children's, so she helps them get a parking pass.
Hayes said her smallest gestures are sometimes the most important to patients. Soon after she became a parent liaison in March, she started stocking snacks in the NICU parent lounge. She said more than one parent has thanked her for the food. They arrived at the hospital late at night and in their panic did not have any pocket change to feed the vending machines.
Hayes also organizes a monthly family support dinner for NICU parents in the unit's conference room. She said the dinners give families a chance to relax and share their experiences with other NICU parents.
Other times, Hayes just listens.
"I think they look forward to me coming in so they can share the milestone their baby reached. Sometimes the parents need to tell their story, and the staff has a limited amount of time to get everything done," she said.
In addition to their services for parents, Hayes and the March of Dimes provide professional development for nurses to teach them how to work with NICU families and their special-needs infants, how to help those parents make the transition from hospital to home and how to help them grieve if their child passes away.
Hayes hopes to expand her services at the hospital. She recently attended a conference in Chicago where she met other March of Dimes NICU liaisons, and picked up several ideas.
She wants to start a scrapbooking class for NICU parents to help them track their infant's progress.
She also is working on a photo book of NICU staff, so parents can put faces with names, as well as photo brochures of the Ronald McDonald house, to give parents an idea of where they will be staying while their child is in the hospital.
"It's a rollercoaster ride for a lot of them," Hayes said.
Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.har...@daily mail.com. Follow him at www.twitter. com/ZackHarold.