July 23, 2018

NICU nurse overwhelmed by support from co-workers after house fire

The house is gone. Love remains.

Lesette Guinn, RN, is overwhelmed.

The second week in July her family escaped a fire that destroyed their home in Clarksville.

Guinn, a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, along with her husband, Cleve, and 2-month-old daughter, Amelia, are all safe.

“I’m still in shock,” she said. “not just from the fire, but the outpouring of support we have experienced. It has truly been amazing.”

“I have always said that I work for an amazing unit and this really proves it. We have been blessed during this time.”

Guinn has worked in the NICU for two and a half years, and when word of the fire reached her co-workers they immediately went into action to help.

Emily Grohovsky, RN, spearheaded the efforts to help Guinn and her family.

“We were able to give them $3,000, toys, clothes and gift cards to hold them over until their insurance kicked in,” Grohovsky said. “I spoke with Lesette and she was in tears and blown away from the support she has received.”

The remarkable show of support from her unit doesn’t surprise Guinn one bit.

“I have always said that I work for an amazing unit and this really proves it,” she said. “We have been blessed during this time.”

Even the night of the fire, the family received an extraordinary act of support from the fire crew battling the blaze.

As Guinn’s husband Cleve watched the firefighters work on his family’s burning house, he thought of something inside that was irreplaceable — about two months’ worth of breast milk for his infant daughter, Amelia.

He asked firefighter-medic Caleb Slaughter about the possibility of saving the milk, which was in a freezer in the garage.

“I have two children,” the firefighter said. “When he told me about that, I totally understood.”

According to Slaughter, an 18-year-veteran of the fire department, the crews were working “on the defensive,” keeping the fire from spreading to other structures —which meant that it became possible to attempt getting into the garage safely.

“We lifted the garage door and I crawled in,” recalled Slaughter, who was in full gear. “I don’t remember what I was handed to put the milk in, but once I was in and found the freezer, I just started filling up the container.”

He said that, in his mind, firefighters save lives, and that milk for little Amelia represented life.

“There must have been about 100 baggies. Once they told me there was breast milk in there, to me it was life. It was the principle, I guess.”

So Amelia has her milk, and the family has begun working with insurance to put their lives back together.

Guinn, currently on maternity leave, said the fire more than likely started from an ember from the grill on the deck. The family is staying with her parents in Clarksville.

The Guinn family, while expressing its deep gratitude for the generosity of coworkers, says that they are not in need of further donations and that the losses from the fire are covered by insurance.