MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three therapists at WVU Medicine Children’s have earned a certification that can help bring peace of mind to families whose babies have to stay in the NICU.

Jenelle Faini, a physical therapist, Megan Martino, an occupational therapist, and Katie Fluharty, a speech-language pathologist, have all earned a certification from the Neonatal Therapy Certification Board (NTCB).

The certification means that the trio has passed an exam and put in 3,500 hours of work in the NICU environment.

Faini, Martino and Fluharty all said they started out in adult care at WVU Medicine, but soon found a love from working with babies and pediatrics.

“I fell in love with it. So, pursued a lot of continued education and mentorship just to be a better practitioner in the NICU world, and now I love it,” said Martino.

Megan Martino, Jenelle Faini and Katie Fluharty all received certification from the Neonatal Therapy Certification Board in their field of work as therapists.

According to the group, Fluharty convinced them to take the exam and become certified after realizing they all loved working with NICU babies.

“I really feel like I have a good backing of knowledge to help these families and help the babies have the best experience that they can have while they’re here and hopefully shorten the time that they’re here,” said Faini.

Many families visiting the NICU would be surprised to hear about a physical therapist, an occupational therapist or a speech pathologist visiting a patient, as therapists in those fields are unlikely to work with patients so young.

According to the NTCB, “Neonatal therapists are an essential part of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team. A neonatal therapist is an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech-language pathologist who delivers holistic direct patient care and consultative services to premature and medically complex infants in the NICU.”

The trio at WVU Medicine Children’s is hoping that their work helps bring comfort and ease to patients and their families.

“While it does make us feel really proud that we have it, it also just allows the other staff in the NICU and then peace of mind to the parents and the babies that we’re caring for that they are receiving competent care,” said Fluharty.

All three therapists said they credit their mentors and supporters within the hospital staff for helping them achieve the certification.