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Yakima boy thrives with help from MultiCare’s NICU and Children’s Village

Monday, March 13, 2023

Most days, you can find Jonah Vogel racing across playgrounds and jumping in puddles with a happy-go-lucky grin taking up half his face. At just 4 years old, this Yakima boy’s infectious laughter has already won the hearts of countless people, and his mother Jenna couldn’t be prouder of how far he’s come. Jonah was born premature and had to overcome many challenges in his life, including numerous medical procedures and an autism diagnosis when he was 3 years old.

Jenna’s pregnancy started normally. However, at her 20-week ultrasound she learned Jonah was three weeks behind in gestational age. Jenna and her husband scheduled weekly checkups, and it became more apparent that Jonah was not developing at a typical pace. With the help of her doctor, Jenna made the decision to be induced at 36 weeks, but fate struck when her water broke at 30 weeks.

Jenna and her husband rushed to MultiCare Yakima Memorial Hospital for an emergency C-section. Jonah was born weighing only 2 pounds, 13 ounces. Jenna says he was as tiny as a squirrel.

For the next two months, Jonah stayed at Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Jenna and her husband visited multiple times a day to check on their baby boy, and during this time they developed lasting relationships with its nurses and staff. Memorial’s team quickly discovered that Jonah had serious issues with feeding, and it took two months in the NICU for him to put on the few pounds he needed before he could be released.

“I felt so supported,” says Jenna. “It was like having my own little family there for me around the clock. I don’t know what we would have done without them. They helped set us up for success.”

Even after going home, Jonah continued to have trouble eating and growing. Jenna tried everything she could to get him the nutrition he needed, but she and her husband recognized they needed professional assistance. When Jonah was 5 months old, the family was referred to Memorial’s Children’s Village, which specializes in children with special health care needs. Jonah started physical therapy, with the goal of building muscle strength and coordination.

“The Children’s Village staff were so knowledgeable and compassionate,” says Jenna. “We were welcomed by everyone, and the doctor quickly referred us to other early intervention therapies to help Jonah grow stronger.”

Soon after, Jonah started feeding therapy and occupational therapy to help him build the muscles and mechanics to eat, walk and develop other fine motor skills. While these therapies helped, when Jonah was 2 years old his team determined that he needed a gastronomy tube to get the necessary nutrition to maintain his health. This was the first of Jonah’s many surgeries, tests and procedures under general anesthesia.

“It was hard,” says Jenna. “My husband and I were eventually referred to the Parent-to-Parent support group at Children’s Village. A lot of the families whose children are patients there are part of this group and became such a blessing to our family. They were able to support and listen to what was going on in our lives in a way not many people can. It was incredible to find that level of support.”

Day by day, Jonah continues to get stronger. Jenna recalls one of the most joyous moments for their family was when their physical therapist helped Jonah learn to climb stairs on his own. It’s wins like these that show what a huge difference Children’s Village can make in the lives of children with disabilities and their families.

Learn more about MultiCare Yakima Memorial Hospital’s NICU and Children’s Village. These programs are made possible by The Memorial Foundation. Learn how you can help.