Hand to Hold Forges New Partnership with Seton Medical Center Austin

January 31, 2019

seton medical center Austin, hand to hold, seton Austin NICU,

On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, Hand to Hold Ambassadors Christine Tester and Cristal Carrasco handed out dozens of NICU parent bags and NICU Milestone Bead necklaces to parents in the NICU at Seton Medical Center Austin. This Tuesday marked a special day – the official launch of Hand to Hold’s new partnership with Seton Medical Center Austin.

Although Hand to Hold has had a table outside the NICU for weeks prior to the launch, giving out Hand to Hold information to parents as they passed, Cristal and Christine were thrilled to be able to round in the NICU itself, talking with parents at the bedside, presenting them with their parent bags and necklaces and taking the next step to providing vital connection and support. Cristal is specially trained in perinatal mood disorders and perinatal support and is peer-to-peer support certified by the state of Texas and will be the Ambassador assigned to the unit.

Thanks to this new partnership, Hand to Hold will be able to support approximately 800 families annually via our Ambassador Program, including bedside visits and in-hospital support groups. It is our goal to continue that support in the months and years to come after families go home through our peer mentor program, online communities, podcasts and additional educational resources.

Attending the event to celebrate the launch and ribbon cutting were members of the Seton Medical Center Austin NICU team, Elizabeth Ann Seton Board members, members of Hand to Hold’s NICU parent community, and various news outlets. Hand to Hold board member and Chief of Neonatology at Dell Children’s Medical Center, John Loyd, spoke and was able to express the need for the family-friendly support Hand to Hold provides.

“We want healthy families, we want healthy marriages, we want healthy babies growing into healthy young adults, and that’s where Hand to Hold comes in,” said Loyd. “Kelli Kelley and her team are a dynamic force for those good things in the lives of our families. Kelli Kelley has made it her life’s work to be able to advocate for these families.”

Kelli then took to the podium to share her hopes and joy for this new relationship, a partnership that has been a goal of hers for a decade.

“While we have the most amazing medical care available to us here in Austin, TX, 18 years ago when my son was born, we were really lacking in what we call family-centered care and family support services,” she said. “So I have made it my mission over the past 18 years to improve the NICU experience for NICU families. We want to come alongside them. We want to help them communicate better with their medical team, understand the procedures that their baby will need, to start educating them about how to be a confident care provider for their child long term after their baby goes home.”

At Hand to Hold, we know the impact of peer-to-peer support across the country, the importance of having someone who has walked that walk and can help guide families through the journey. We look forward to this partnership with Seton and to providing support for all the families that will be here for years to come.

We would like to extend special thanks to the Elizabeth Ann Seton Board and EASB Board President O’Kelley Little, EASB gala chairs Laura Hotze and Megan Houser, Dr. John Loyd, Chief of Neonatology at Dell Children’s Medical Center and Hand to Hold board member, Seton Medical Center Austin NICU Director Ingrid Bales, Amy Bullock, Director of Perinatal Services and NICU Services, and Seton NICU nurse April Miller for helping make this goal a reality.

Seton Medical Center launch media coverage:

New partnership providing support to families of NICU babies, Fox 7 Austin

‘Hand to Hold’ to offer support to NICU families at Austin hospital, KVUE

Hand to Hold begins partnership with Seton Medical Center, Austin360


seton medical center Austin, seton NICU, hand to hold, dr John loyd, Amy bullock, Ingrid bales, O'Kelley Little

L-R Amy Bullock, John Loyd, O’Kelley Little, Ingrid Bales

Seton medical center Austin, hand to hold, seton nicu,

Hand to Hold Ambassadors Cristal Carrasco and Christine Tester exit the NICU after their first rounding session, where they delivered informational bags and Milestone Bead necklaces to Seton Medical Center Austin NICU parents.

seton medical center Austin, seton nicu, hand to hold, hand to hold staff

Hand to Hold staff members in attendance to celebrate the launch and ribbon cutting at Seton Medical Center Austin.