PRINCETON — A special place for honoring the memories of children and bringing comfort to their families was unveiled last week at Princeton Community Hospital.

Located on a wall outside the hospital’s Women’s Center, the memory tree’s colorful butterflies and hearts are ready for the names of children who died before birth and up to the age of 18.

Misty McGhee, who was a Princeton Community Hospital respiratory therapist, suffered a pregnancy loss last year. McGhee said that she was greatly moved by the care she received from the PCH Women’s Center staff and from Dr. Randy Brodnik.

McGhee and her fiancé Lawrence Robinson wanted a way to honor their baby’s memory while also providing a venue for honoring the memory of other children.

“Last year we became pregnant and we were hospitalized three times at Princeton Community Hospital due to pregnancy complications, and this hospital has meant a lot to us through that process,” McGhee said. “Ultimately, we lost our son, Steele Scott Robinson, June 23 of last year. He was born at UVA. This project means a whole lot to us because this community needed something for mothers and fathers to be able to say and be able to use their babies’ names and see their babies’ names, and for loss and for awareness.”

A GoFundMe page paid for installing a memory tree on the wall in the waiting area just outside the entrance to the Women’s Center. The tree features pink and blue hearts, and yellow and white butterflies. Anyone wishing to honor a child may purchase a heart or butterfly for $35 that will be engraved with the name of their child.

“Then we ultimately decided to fund this project. We’re so proud of it and it’s absolutely beautiful, and we’re very proud of it,” she said.

McGhee plans to donate $623 annually on June 23 to maintain the funding and honor the memory of Steele. The memorial was inspired by a similar one near the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).

“Actually, I used to work here at Princeton Community Hospital and there’s another, I think it’s a tree, up across from the ICUs,” she recalled. “I saw that one day while I was working and I ultimately got the idea for this and I started contacting people, and me and Angel (French) went with it and decided on doing a tree and doing the hearts and the butterflies, and picking the colors and everything else.”

Women’s Center Director Angel French said that families interested in having children’s names placed on the memorial tree can call 304-431-5021.

“This is a really joyous occasion for us,” said Princeton Community Hospital President and CEO Karen Bowling. “This has been a labor of love for Misty as well as Angel on our team of OBGYN. It’s something as a hospital we feel strongly about, and that is there is so much more care of patients than physical care. It’s really all about the emotional care we do for people not just while they’re here at the hospital, but also how we can continue to support our community.”

Above the tree is the inscription, “And when I wake you are ‘Steele’ with me.” McGhee said her son helped inspire the memorial which will help bring comfort to others.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “Even if he’s not here today, he put the seeds of this into my mind and gave us all the energy. Ultimately I’m very proud, very proud.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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