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Always smiling, she is a calming influence in the NICU

Smiling woman with long dark curly hair, wearing blue scrubs with her name, Pattina, and baby footprints painted on. On white banner with-Pattina Traylor, Health Unit Coordinator, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, and blue Employee Recognition Program logo.

When Pattina Traylor landed her first job at UT Southwestern in 1983, she already knew one of her co-workers well. It was her own mother, Minnie Andrews, who worked in Nutrition Services at the former St. Paul University Hospital when Ms. Traylor started working in housekeeping there. “I was basically following in my mother’s footsteps,” she says.

And what a fortunate choice that turned out to be. Soon after, Mrs. Traylor became a Patient Care Technician and, for many years now, she has been a Health Unit Coordinator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In addition to working in the NICU, she assists in Labor and Delivery.

Her co-workers say she is known for her big smile. Mrs. Traylor says that’s because she loves, loves, loves her job.

“I’m a people person,” she says, “and seeing the moms’ faces when they see their newborns for the first time – what could be better?”

Of course, having a baby in the NICU can be frightening for the newborn’s parents. “Sometimes babies are in the unit for three months or more, so we really become family. The Health Unit Coordinator is the first person that families see when they come to the unit,” Mrs. Traylor says. “They’re scared. We calm them down, help them feel relaxed, tell them that everything is going to be OK.”

While her workdays are wonderful, sometimes they tend to blend together after so many years of working in the same Department. But there is one day that still stands out in her memory.

The unit was doing a “code pink” drill, which is a practice exercise response to an attempted baby-snatching. The unit’s doors are locked, and security leaps into action. And Mrs. Traylor was at the heart of all that action.

“They had me ‘kidnap’ a pretend baby. I had to run down five flights of stairs to get away from the officer who was chasing me. I didn’t know I could run that fast, but when I got to the first floor, I yelled to the officer that he could have the baby back. I could not run anymore,” she recalls laughing.

The excitement that day is a contrast to the tranquility of the country lifestyle where she was raised. Mrs. Traylor grew up in Hawkins, in East Texas. “I love horses. We had horses, cows, all the farm animals,” she says.

Outside of work, Mrs. Traylor enjoys decorating and spending time with her large family, which includes husband Daryl, two sons, two daughters, eight grandchildren, and a special new member of the family, their pit bull, Major. “Spending time with my grandbabies keeps me happy.”

As does spending time with her mother, who worked at UT Southwestern for 45 years and is still going strong. “She’s 83 and she can still outdo me at the malls,” Mrs. Traylor says.

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