Behind the doors of Methodist Women's Hospital, a special team of volunteers cuddles and comforts premature infants who need a human's touch.
“They have the patience of saints,” said Kathy Walburn, a developmental care specialist in the neonatal intensive care unit. “Sometimes they'll sit there for two or three hours holding fussy babies.”
Walburn's job is to support parents who have babies in the NICU and oversee the team of cuddlers. Last year she made a $100 donation in their honor to The World-Herald's Goodfellows charity, which offers one-time emergency assistance for needy people in the community.
She said the donation was the perfect gift for a giving-oriented group.
“There are people out there who have many needs, and I thought (the cuddlers) would appreciate this donation more than me spending $10 on a silly gift,” she said.
Although the dozen baby cuddlers are not paid, Walburn said they are a part of the NICU team.
“What they provide for babies is as important as the medicine we give them,” she said. “We truly believe in the value of human touch and voice.”
Walburn said many babies are in the NICU for several weeks and sometimes months, which makes working parents grateful to have the cuddlers nearby.
“It's a part of what we provide for babies to help them get better,” she said.