On Thursday, September 12, Michael Garron Hospital hosted its annual Preemie Picnic with a number of graduate families from the Special Care Nursery and special guests from Huggies Canada present to announce a generous $25,000 grant in support of the hospital's Volunteer Huggers program.
“We are so very grateful to Huggies for the commitment they’ve made today to ensure that no baby at MGH goes unhugged,” said Jennifer Bordin, manager of the Maternal Newborn and Child (MNC) program and Special Care Nursery. “We all know of the many benefits of holding babies in their earliest days and this grant will allow us to further expand our program and help more families.”
The Volunteer Huggers program, which started as a pilot project in 2017, is made up of experienced hospital volunteers who spend time in the Special Care Nursery – an Advanced Level 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – holding premature and/or sick newborns while their families are away from the hospital. The program offers babies and families numerous benefits – giving parents the assurance that their babies will not be alone and offering babies the many physical and psychological benefits that come from hugging including relaxed muscles and less stress-induced crying.
Picnic guests heard from several other program members throughout the afternoon including Dr. Celia Atkinson, chief of pediatrics, and Betty Hicks, volunteer hugger. Grateful patient, Joanne Fong, also spoke at the picnic and shared her own personal experience with the MNC program and Volunteer Huggers, reminding participants of the impact that such services can have on families.
Following the speeches, guests and their children played games, took part in arts and crafts activities and mingled with staff.
To see pictures from the picnic, please view the album below. To learn more about the Volunteer Huggers program and volunteers who make it possible, click here to read an article from The Star.