A nurse at Howard University Hospital has devoted 25 years of her career to helping infants whose families are not ready or able to care for them.
Davene White, a neonatal nurse, has seen many babies born at the hospital in her 35 years of experience.
“Newborns are new life,” White said.
White keeps a scrapbook at work that has an old photo of two volunteers rocking newborns who were abandoned in the 80s. The infants’ mothers were addicted to drugs.
“Crack cocaine hit the streets of Washington, D.C., hit the streets of the United States and it
significantly affected maternal instinct,” White said.
During the crack epidemic, Howard University Hospital housed as many as 32 “boarder babies” in a single unit. White founded the hospital’s Boarder Babies Program to help those newborns who were either abandoned or came from an unstable home.
“The hospital ended up being a marvelous day care center,” White said. “We had to go buy clothes for them. We had to buy toys for them.”
Some of the babies stayed for years, saying their first words and taking their first steps at the hospital.
“The whole hospital fell in love with the children. Many of the employees actually in the hospital ended up adopting
some of the children,” White said.
Now, the program has evolved to focus on prevention.
“We are not taking care of children here in the hospital, but we are taking care of children
in the community,” White said.
This Saturday, the hospital will hold its 25th annual Child and Family Celebration for at risk children.