Modrzynski dealing with more than county issues

Newborn daughter has major health issues

ALPENA — Those who attend Alpena County Board of Commissioners and county committee meetings may have noticed there has been a commissioner missing for nearly two months, District No. 3 Commissioner Nick Modrzynski.

Modrzynski and his wife Tiffany have been spending much of their time at the bedside of their newborn daughter Mila, who was born in Alpena on July 21 and rushed to University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor after a serious heart defect was discovered minutes after she was born.

Since being transferred Mila has undergone six surgeries, had her ups downs and as a result Nick has remained for the most part at her side.

Modrzynski said when he was appointed to represent District No. 3 he was eager to serve and still is. Now, however, he believes it is important to be with his family through these challenging times. He said he regularly receives calls, emails and texts from other commissioners and staff and has been staying current on what is going on in the county.

“I’ve been staying up-to-date, but right now it is really not possible to attend the meetings,” he said. “I have come home a few times for less than 24 hours and had to rush back because there needed to be another emergency surgery done. The commissioners have really stepped up to sit in for me and the support I’ve received from the county has been overwhelming.”

When Mila was born, Tiffany got to hold her briefly, but realized quickly something was wrong. She said Mila’s skin was purple over her entire body. Soon an echocardiogram was done and a speedy transfer to Ann Arbor was being planned. Tiffany said the transfer took longer than expected because of uncontrollable circumstances.

“They wanted to use Life Flight from the airport, but the runways were closed because of the plane crash,” she said. “There were also storms so they couldn’t use a helicopter to take her. They ended up taking her by ambulance.”

Since she arrived at Mott, it has been a whirlwind of both good and bad news for the parents. Tiffany said although the baby’s heart is stabilized it will need future surgeries. She said there also are other obstacles that need to be overcome. Mila has depended on a chest tube since her birth and just recently was able to take a pacifier in her mouth. Because of her nutrition and lack of movement, she is weak and her bones are brittle, which resulted in a fracture in each of her arms.

Through it all, Tiffany said, Mila has been a warrior and fought her illnesses hard. She said the timeline for recovery is long and she expects Mila to remain in the hospital for many weeks. In that time, she said, she knows there will be progress and setbacks along the way.

“We have to take things day by day and minute by minute. Mila is the one who sets the schedule,” Tiffany said. “We know we will be here for a while, but we are where we need to be. The doctors and staff have been amazing and proving the best care for her.”

Commissioner Cam Habermehl agreed. He said it is important for Nick to be with his family and not worry about missing meetings. Habermehl said the Modrzynski family is in everyone’s thoughts and prayers.

“Family has to come first and Nick is where he needs to be and should be, as should anyone else who is in that same position,” Habermehl said.

Nick said word of Mila’s condition and challenges has spread well beyond Alpena. He said there have been cards and social media posts from people all over the country. The concern and support expressed to his family, which include children Noah and Quinn, has helped to lift their spirits.

“The support has been amazing, because this is hard,” he said. “I rarely get to hold Mila because it takes a team to move her. We appreciate the well wishes and prayers we are receiving.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.