When Sebree, KY resident Chris Hedrick retired two years ago, he had no
idea he’d end up volunteering to cuddle babies in Methodist Hospital’s
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and would feel like he’d found
his calling. “Being here as a rocking chair grandpa is a real blessing,” he said.
“He’s known as ‘Papa’ in the NICU,” said
Terri Nunn, BSN, RNC, OB/Labor-Delivery/Nursery/NICU Manager, who explained
that the Rock-A-Bye Baby program was recently launched at Methodist Hospital
to provide extra cuddling and touch to babies born prematurely or with
medical issues who are in the NICU.
“Our NICU babies often spend the first weeks or even months of their
lives here,” noted Nunn. “Their parents must often return
to work and can’t be here around-the-clock to give them the nurturing
they need, and studies have shown that babies do better when they are
held and talked to; babies grow in love!”
“Currently, one volunteer, Chris Hedrick, has been vetted and screened
through Methodist Hospital Volunteer Services, and is serving as our NICU
Papa,” she added. Parents must give consent for their babies to
be cuddled in their absence, but Nunn said most do and are happy their
babies are getting an extra dose of love.
Hedrick, whose wife, Verna, works at Methodist Hospital in Gastroenterology,
was encouraged to become a volunteer by Sandy Blue, Coordinator of Volunteer
Services, and the new Rock-A-Bye Baby program seemed to be a perfect fit.
“The first day I rocked those babies was awesome,” he said.
“To see God’s miracles close up and the way the nurses and
doctors care for them was mind-blowing. I was hooked.”
Hedrick rocks and cuddles each baby, changing his gown and washing his
hands in between each one. Thanks to his availability, whenever there
are newborns in the NICU in need of cuddling, he can most likely be found
in the rocking chair with a baby in his arms.
Cuddling programs like Methodist Hospital’s Rock-A-Bye Baby program
are a growing trend at hospitals across the nation. “We are so happy
to have our NICU Papa here,” Nunn added. “Studies have shown
the importance of sensory stimulation and touch to the babies’ growth
and development. Infants receiving sensory stimulation averaged 47% greater
weight gain per day than the control group who were not receiving sensory
stimulation and were discharged an average of six days earlier.”
The Rock-A-Bye Baby program is currently fully staffed with volunteers
and additional volunteers are not needed at this time. If you are interested
in other volunteer opportunities at Methodist Hospital, please contact
Volunteer Services at
Photo Caption: Chris Hedrick, Methodist Hospital volunteer for the new
Rock-A-Bye Baby program in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), is
pictured with Emma, daughter of Ryan and Danielle Rhoads.
For questions regarding this press release, please contact Brandi L. Schwartz
at 270-831-7836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.