Down-to-earth actor and prolific children’s book author, Jamie Lee Curtis, shared her support and compassion especially for healthcare givers and moms during an impromptu visit to Children’s Hospital Central California.
“Nurses are my heroes!” exclaimed Curtis upon meeting Beverly Hayden-Pugh, vice president and chief nursing officer at Children’s on Sept. 18.
After talking with other members of leadership, the “True Lies” and “A Fish Called Wanda” sensation toured Children’s 88-bed, regional level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The unit provides the highest level of care for ill and/or premature infants between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. As Curtis walked the hallway, a child’s cry behind her caught her attention.
“What a cute baby!” said Curtis as she turned around and kissed the tiny foot of Anaïs Anderson while her mother, Cheryl Dettrick, carried her in her car seat. Hearing Anaïs’ name, Curtis smiled. Just an hour earlier Curtis had referenced a quote by Anaïs Nin, a well-known author with the same name, in the keynote address she delivered at the sold-out Central California Women’s Conference in Fresno. “It seemed like a meant-to-be moment,” said Dettrick.
Born at 37 weeks’ gestation on Aug. 23, Anaïs’ twin brother, Aiden, was airlifted from San Luis Obispo to Children’s for intestinal problems. After two surgical procedures, he is undergoing treatment for short bowel syndrome and showing significant improvement. Thankfully, Anaïs’ health is fine.
“Jamie Lee was warm, caring, supportive and truly interested in what we were going through,” said Dettrick later in the Hospital room, as her partner, Trisha Anderson, cradled Aiden, and Anaïs lay sleeping nearby. “It was wonderful to meet her.”
Traveling back and forth from San Luis Obispo can be challenging. Aiden’s parents and Anaïs stay at the Ronald McDonald House, “which makes things a lot easier,” said Trisha.
The family-centered care at Children’s particularly impressed Curtis, including the Ronald McDonald House, free RV hookups and private rooms in the NICU aimed at keeping parents together with their children.
Curtis also made a lasting impression on another NICU mom. Stacy Lane from Lake Isabella said she tried hard not to be “star-struck” when she saw Curtis standing just feet away. “She was so nice,” said Lane. “It was the experience of a lifetime.”
Lane’s son, Truston, was born at 37 weeks’ gestation on Sept. 14. He was transferred from Bakersfield shortly after birth for difficulties with feeding. “Jamie Lee took a personal interest in Truston and asked about my other children,” continued Lane, adding that Truston was expected to be well enough to go home the next day. “I’m excited to put this in his baby book!”
Originally from Southern California, Curtis feels a special connection to the Central Valley. Her mother Janet Leigh was born in Merced and both women attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton. A mother of two adopted children, Curtis has been involved with children’s charities nationwide for years. In fact, she helped Children’s Hospital Central California successfully complete the recent $42 million Campaign for Children’s and continues to be a friend of the Hospital.
Appreciative of what she experienced at Children’s, Curtis soon needed to leave to do another event. She headed to the nearby Barnes & Noble to promote her 10th children’s book, “My Brave Year of Firsts.”
“Jamie Lee is such a vortex of positive energy,” said Hayden-Pugh, still reeling from Curtis’ visit. “She has a unique gift of making everyone feel important and special. She really connected with the moms.”