"Our goal at Palmetto Health is to do everything that we can to support our families. This grant provides us with the resources to offer even more support. We know that touch is a vital part of caring for each patient and that something as simple as a hug helps provide babies with what they need to develop and grow. Those hugs given, by our dedicated volunteers, also reduce the burden and stress for families who cannot always be there to cuddle their babies," says Mollie Ironside, MSP, CCC-SLP, pediatric speech language pathologist at Palmetto Health Richland. "With this grant from Huggies, we can purchase more chairs, books and other items that will increase comfort for our volunteers, these fragile patients, and their families."
In the two years of the No Baby Unhugged program, Huggies has awarded $330,000 in grant funding to hospitals in need. The grants have been used to purchase hugging chairs, recruit and train volunteers, and promote the idea of cuddler programs. The eight hospitals receiving grants this January are:
- Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (Norfolk, VA)
- Crouse Health (Syracuse, NY)
- Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children (Huntsville, AL)
- Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (Baltimore, MD)
- Loyola University Medical Center (Maywood, IL)
- Palmetto Health Richland (Columbia, SC)
- Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital (Indianapolis, IN)
- Tufts Medical Center (Boston, MA)
"It's not only premature babies who benefit greatly from these hugs in the NICU, but also near- or full-term babies," says Aric Melzl, general manager for Huggies Healthcare. "Hospitals that have received a Huggies' No Baby Unhugged grant have shown that babies receiving hugs continue to develop motor skills and gain weight."
To be considered for future rounds of grants, interested hospitals should visit Huggies Healthcare website for further information about program application process.