On September 16, 2011, BAYADA’s Mount Laurel, NJ Pediatrics office began caring for Kasey D.—a beautiful, curly-haired baby girl with sparkling green eyes and a capturing smile. BAYADA Nurse Andrea Grady, RN, remembers her first day with Kasey very well. “She was my very first daytime case, and from the very start, she was unique. Busy is the word I would use to describe her—she’s always on the go.”

Kasey was born prematurely at 26 weeks on September 24, 2010. Her parents, Mary and Jack, watched helplessly as their little girl fought for her life, surrounded by machines, tubes, and wires. In addition to an atrial septal defect (ASD)—a hole in the interior wall of the heart—Kasey had a feeding tube inserted through her belly button and a tracheostomy that enabled her to breathe. She was also diagnosed with chronic lung disease, requiring frequent oxygen use. Kasey spent the first 299 days of her life in the hospital before her parents could take her home.

Kasey continued to grow and thrive at home. After she turned two and was able to be out more in public, Kasey began participating in dance classes, gymnastics, and soccer. In fall 2013, her trach was removed, and one year later, she had reconstructive surgery to fix the hole left in its place. “We were happy her lungs had developed to a point that she no longer needed her trach or vent. We are excited to finally let her do some things that she has wanted to do, like go swimming and take a shower,” Mary says. Since her surgeries, she has begun taking karate and is proud of what she is able to do.

A day in Kasey’s life

Child after trach has been removed A day with Kasey is always filled with excitement and new experiences. Andrea arrives to her home in the morning and begins her day. She bathes Kasey and gets her dressed, administers her medication, and begins feedings. “Kasey is beginning to learn how to eat foods orally. This is a big and scary step for her. She has never done this before. She still receives all of her nutrients through her G-tube, but we are introducing her to puréed foods. Eventually, she will master this and will have her feeding tube removed,” says Andrea.

Kasey has another big change in her life—she’s going to school! “Andrea accompanies her to afternoon pre-kindergarten and provides medical care and love when we can’t be there,” Mary shares. And this bright, active little girl is more than ready for this step in her life. “She’s so smart. She loves to read to me and soaks up information. She knows all of her medication, understands all the procedure terms, and can even start her pump under supervision,” Andrea adds.

When they arrive home, Andrea administers Kasey’s afternoon medications and works on PT and OT goals. Once Kasey’s night nurse arrives, Andrea says her goodbyes and leaves for the day. “It has been a pleasure watching her grow,” Andrea shares. “Her doctors comment on how well she is developing. I know one day she will no longer need our care, and that will mean we’ve done our job.”

A few thoughts from Kasey

Do you like having nurses?
Yes.

Why do you have nurses?
Because I earned them, like stickers!

What do your nurses do? 
Help me eat, go to school with me, and check my pulse ox.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A teacher or maybe a nurse.

What do you want to tell your BAYADA Nurses?
I got my trach out and now I’m home!