On Oct. 30, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center presented a Halloween extravaganza for pediatric patients and their families. For the smallest babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, volunteers continued their tradition of sewing specially designed tiny costumes. The costumes are designed for babies as little as two pounds and are based on characters in famous children’s books. The costumes fold over the babies so as not to disturb medical tubes. For parents, it’s a wonderful opportunity to photograph their baby’s first Halloween celebration, even though it’s in the hospital.
“Halloween in the NICU is a very special day for patient families and their caregivers,” said Selma Braziel, associate director of the NICU. “The parents and siblings adore the tiny costumes and love dressing and photographing their babies. It’s a great opportunity for them to celebrate their newborns and forget, even for a short time, the medical issues that landed them in the hospital.”
For older pediatric patients, several dogs from Cedars-Sinai’s POOCH volunteer program dressed in costume. The pooches and their volunteer handlers went door-to-door, reverse trick-or-treating and giving the children small Halloween-themed knickknacks.
“For our pediatric patients, the dogs are always a source of smiles, giggles and comfort,” said Maureen Chin, associate director of pediatrics.
Chin’s dog Marley is a popular member of the POOCH program and was one of the costumed pooches visiting patients this Halloween.
The costume program for NICU babies was started 22 years ago by Dorothy Williams, a former Cedars-Sinai employee who became a volunteer. Dorothy and other volunteers, including her grandchildren and Cedars-Sinai staffers, create and sew the costumes. The Barbara Cowen POOCH volunteer program is turning 20 years old and currently has 40 dogs involved.
Cedars-Sinai is located at 7800 Beverly Blvd. For information, visit cedars-sinai.org.
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