Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 53

A dedicated nurse,
a first-time mom,
and a premature
baby met in the
UVA NICU and,
three decades later,
are as close as ever
BY KELLY CASEY

PHOTO BY ZITZMANN FAMILY

I

t's been 20 years since Cynthia
Scott-Simms, RN, left the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to
care for older heart patients at
UVA Health System. But what she never
left behind are the close ties she has
with many of her former patients.
"I still keep in touch with quite a few
of my babies," Cynthia shares. "As long
as they tell me about an event, and I'm
able to get it on my calendar, I go in support of them."
One of her "babies" is Amy Zitzmann.
Born three months premature in
January of 1989, Amy weighed a mere
1 pound, 15 ounces when she arrived
in the UVA Children's Hospital NICU.
Her mom, Donna Shiflett, remembers
some scary moments when her first
(and only) child would stop breathing.
But Donna also remembers every UVA
nurse being calm and amazing-with
one standout.
"Cynthia is an exceptional nurse and
person," Donna says. "She's been family since day one and took care of our
most precious gift ... Amy is now 29 and
thriving and Cynthia has been there
for every event in her life. Where do
you find a nurse who will call you on
your birthday? And go to every graduation and your wedding? I've never seen

Amy Zitzmann on her wedding day with the UVA nurse who cared for her long ago in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). "It's not my birthday until Cynthia calls," Amy shares,
adding, "She was at my high school and college graduations and my wedding. And now she
calls me on my birthday and anniversary."

that happen before. It's just unbelievable," adds Donna, a nurse herself from
Warrenton, Virginia.
As a young adult, Amy remembers
being amazed when Cynthia came to
her graduation at University of Mary
Washington and spotted another one of
her NICU "babies."
"As far as I know from what my mom
and dad have told me," shares Amy (now
living in Bristow, Virginia), "Cynthia took
over my care when I took a turn for the
worse. She's been with me ever since."
In the winter of 1989, Cynthia became
Amy's primary nurse when, at only days
old, she developed a dangerous infection
from one of many tubes poking from her
tiny frame. "I took care of her for more
than two months when she was so sick
and so small. People will say, 'Can you
believe her now?' and I'll be like, 'I can't,
because to me, she's still my baby.'"

Cynthia adds, "Amy doesn't have her
own child yet, but she's informed me
that when she does, I'm supposed to be
there for the delivery. I told her, 'I'll be
there as soon as I can.'"
Cynthia says she never planned to
stay in touch with so many of her former
NICU patients. "It was something that
just happened. With me as their primary
nurse, I just took everything to heart
and I wanted to provide the best care
that I could. When their parents weren't
there, I had to be their advocate. The
parents appreciated what I did."
Donna Shiflett is one of those parents.
She believes that because of Cynthia's
dedication, her daughter never struggled
to catch up with her peers, as is often
the case with premature babies. Donna
says, "We are so blessed to have Cynthia
as part of our lives. We love her and
always will." â– 
FALL 2018

53



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover4
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