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Against the Odds: Hayley Good’s Journey from Premature Baby to NICU Nurse

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Cedarville University Alumnus Returns to Same NICU Ward to Help Others

A Full-Circle Life

Little did Haley Good know at her birth that one day she would return to the same NICU ward at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus to care as a nurse for premature babies and their families.
Little did Haley Good know at her birth that one day she would return to the same NICU ward at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus to care as a nurse for premature babies and their families.

A Premature Baby

Hayley Good began her life in a NICU ward at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Hayley Good began her life in a NICU ward at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

CEDARVILLE, OHIO, May 27, 2024 – Hayley Good was not expected to live long. Born at just 24 weeks and weighing one pound and nine ounces at the OSU Wexner Medical Center, she was later moved to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with little hope for survival.

The medical staff painted a grim picture for Good’s parents. They learned that if she survived intubation and heart surgery, her life expectancy would be short and filled with medical crises.

But God intervened in her young life. Good survived the medical procedures and, ultimately, overcame her immense medical struggles. After earning her degree in nursing from Cedarville University on May 4, 2024, her journey will come full circle in July when she begins her career as a NICU nurse — in the same ward where she was placed as an infant. Good is currently serving as a medical technician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Good maintains that her birth, early life and journey through medical complications is not just her own story, but the story of her family that loved her, the nurses and doctors who treated her and a God who provided for her.

Good’s parents had lost a prior set of identical twins before the premature birth of Good and her own twin sister, who passed away two days later. While the situation looked bleak, her family’s faith in God and in their young child was bolstered by the treatment and care shown by the nurses and doctors of the NICU ward.

After a few months of NICU treatment, Good was able to come home with her parents. However, her doctors warned that due to the complications of her premature birth, there would likely be future complications that could prevent Good from living a normal life. This warning became partially true when Good faced a scoliosis diagnosis at eight years old, needing to wear a back brace from the time she was nine and needing spinal fusion surgery the summer before entering high school.

“I remember walking into that surgery knowing the Lord had saved me for a purpose. I wasn’t sure what that purpose was, but I knew that life had been hard and that this surgery was going to be life-changing,” said Good. “But I knew most of all that recovery was going to be rough because I would need to learn how to walk comfortably again and I would need to rely on others to help, which I’m not good at.”

Yet it was Good’s reliance on others throughout her medical journey that led her to pursue a degree in nursing. Her experiences as a newborn and overcoming scoliosis gave her a passion to care for others.  This dream took root in high school  and became more of a reality when she found Cedarville University. She chose to pursue a degree in nursing while also learning how to better share her faith in the God who provided at every step of her journey.

Good’s academic journey was beneficial for her. During her four years at Cedarville, she acquired first an internship and later her preceptorship in the same NICU ward at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where she had stayed as a patient 20 years prior.

“I never thought I would actually get chosen to work at Nationwide Children’s,” said Good. “There’s a part of the ward that’s called the BPD, which stands for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and it is the only one in the country that specializes in this specific respiratory disease. People come from all over the country to work there, so to land a job there right after graduation is incredibly difficult and very rewarding for me.”

For Good, this placement is deeply personal beyond any career advantages. Many of the doctors and nurses at the NICU unit were interns and medical techs when she was born, and to work alongside the same healthcare providers who saved her life is a great honor. Yet even greater still is the opportunity Good believes she has as a former NICU patient to serve NICU babies and their families.

“They told me I might never have a normal life, but by the grace of God, I finished nursing school and am now entering the field as a professional,” said Good. “I think it’s special that I get to be a light to these parents who don’t know what their kids’ lives are going to be like. It’s special to be able to give them a small glimpse of hope that their kid could be normal, have a full life and do all the things they dream they will do.”

“Working in the NICU is taxing, but it helps you realize the importance of life and death and how, as a Christian nurse, you can serve in times of difficulty,” said Good. “You get to be the person to walk through all those highs and lows with them, and that’s a super special  way to serve as both a healthcare professional and a Christian.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is a Baptist university with undergraduate programs in arts, sciences, and professional programs, and graduate programs. With an enrollment of 5,456 students in 175 areas of study, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio and is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, and high graduation and retention rates. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.