SEOUL, Korea -- 'Baek-il' is a Korean celebration of a baby's first 100 days of life. Historically, it was a big milestone for a baby to reach 100 days since babies would often pass away due to illness and poor living conditions. 'Baek-il' has lost most of its significance these days, but recently, one family and medical staff got to appreciate the true meaning of the 'Baek-il' celebration.

Eliana Garcia was born on Jan. 29, 2018, four months premature. After the birth, Eliana was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Samsung Medical Center (SMC), one of the purchased care sector providers in partnership with the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital (BAACH).

It was hard for Kelly Garcia, Eliana's mother, at first to accept the fact that she and her husband, Army Capt. Joseph Garcia, would miss a lot of Eliana's milestones. However, they managed to overcome this tough time thanks to the care Eliana received from both the BAACH and SMC medical staff as well as the community support from friends and families in and around U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.

Garcia said many BAACH staff members provided much needed support and information.

"Dr. Benjamin Telsey, who was overseeing Eliana's case before we moved to Humphreys, was so helpful explaining the more difficult parts of Eliana's care," shared Garcia. "He really took his time helping us along the way, and we are so grateful for all that he did to help. Also, Mina Sin, our nurse case manager, has also been crucial to our support system, helping us at every stage of our time at SMC."

Garcia shared that the level of care they received from SMC was outstanding -- from her hospitalization and recovery, to Eliana's birth and extended care. She felt they received top-level care.

"The professors, doctors, nurses and staff at SMC have been so wonderful. The medical staff is knowledgeable and capable, which has ultimately been the greatest comfort during our time in the NICU, knowing our daughter is in great hands," said Garcia. "They do their best to answer the questions we have and make sure that we understand what is happening with Eliana."
The International Health Services (IHS) staff also reached out to Garcia on a regular basis and followed up with Eliana's medical team.

"At International Health Services at SMC, when treating with a prematurity, we believe that it is not only important to take care of the baby but also to help parents adapt themselves to unfamiliar surroundings, especially in a foreign country, and to provide emotional support during such difficult and anxious times," said Professor Ji Woon Kim, director of IHS. "On behalf of our staff at IHS, we would like to thank Eliana and her parents for overcoming this new and difficult situation."

When they said they want to prepare a 'Baek-il' party for Eliana, Garcia was reminded how lucky they were that so many people cared for Eliana's well-being. Garcia mentioned that it was incredibly meaningful to have the opportunity to give thanks for 100 days of Eliana's life with the people who worked so hard to look after her, and she couldn't imagine a more appropriate way to celebrate.

"When I first saw Eliana, she was on the edge of a very viable situation. Nobody could be sure of her recovery. However, despite having several crucial moments, she is now getting closer to being discharged," said Dr. Yun Sil Chang, who is overseeing Eliana's case. "It is rewarding to be a neonatologist when extremely premature infants like Eliana regain their health. I hope that Eliana grows to be a happy and healthy child."

BAACH is currently in partnership with over 40 hospitals and clinics in South Korea providing access to care for all military service members and beneficiaries on the peninsula.