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Uncovered Memories

An employee shares the story of a colleague who, upon finding photos of a baby born nearly 30 years ago, makes it her mission to gift the family with the precious pictures.


One morning I got a call from Michele Waltrip, a risk management coordinator at Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC), who told me she had found polaroid pictures of a newborn baby girl while cleaning out hospital files from the 1980s and 90s. The baby had been born at SMMC 28 years ago, and after checking with hospital leadership, the marketing department and the corporate responsibility team, Michele, whose passion happens to be photography, was able to connect with the person in the photos and provide the pictures to the family. She mentioned that the experience led to new, lasting friendships and that it has been the highlight of her career.

Michele said, "While cleaning out the files, I found a manila folder with eight polaroid photos of a baby who I later learned had developed severe respiratory issues and had to be transferred to another facility. SMMC was never able to deliver the baby pictures to the family all these years. After making sure it was ok, I did some research and got a hold of the daughter. I learned she lived an hour and a half away but that her mother was still in our area. She also told me she had never had or seen her baby pictures! We decided to get together so I could deliver the photos and it ended up being one of the most special moments of my life. It was like I was part of this continuation of their care and that they were, after all these years, still part of the SMMC family. I feel so lucky to have been a part of that."