BOSTON (CBS) – Home for the holidays is just not a possibility for some children and their families, but one Boston hospital is bringing the holidays to them.
At the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, it was a day to make memories and for the parents of their youngest patients, a much appreciated break.
Little Rebecca has been in the NICU for almost two months. So have the twins Kaden and Kadance, who were not even three pounds when they were born.
It’s been even longer than that for Kevin. “We evacuated from Hurricane Irma,” says Kevin’s mother Keri Krastel.
She and her family had to leave their Florida home in September. They came to Boston because they have relatives here and then there was no going back. “My water broke. So the safest place for myself and for Kevin was here at Beth Israel,” she says.
It’s not easy with your baby in the NICU. They’re usually premature with a host of medical problems. So on Tuesday, Beth Israel Deaconess held its own holiday celebration.
A nurse who is also a professional photographer took the holiday pictures. A doctor became Santa’s helper, and volunteers made the babies holiday outfits to brighten the season.
“The fact that Santa can come here means so much to us because it’s like a little piece that we can remember and take home,” says Kiara Wilson, the mother of Kadance and Kaden.
“I think it’s great. One of the bad things that can happen being so long in the NICU is to feel alone, and they make you feel part of a community,” says Serena Facchinetti, Rebecca’s mother.
“What we’re trying to do is give parents an opportunity to have some of the normal experiences with their newborn,” says Molly Fraust Wylie, the NICU’s Family Program Manager, and organizer of the event.
Dr. James Connolly is a senior pathologist at the hospital, but his white beard makes him especially qualified to fill in as Santa’s helper. “The purpose of it is really to give the parents of the children in the intensive care unit a memory of Christmas and happier times,” he says.
“They make it the best they can possibly make it so you feel like it’s Christmas. You feel like it’s the holidays,” adds Keri Krastel.