Hospitals can feel like stark and sterile places, especially for parents whose babies need extra time and care before going home. One nurse has found a way to add a bit of brightness and give parents a gift they can treasure forever.
The Special Care Nursery at Winchester Hospital is a calm and quiet place. Lights are dimmed to protect sensitive newborn eyes. Clear bassinets contain little but the baby and medical equipment to allow nurses easy access to their tiny charges.
But there is a bright spot of color on the outside of each crib: a specially made “crib card” with the infant’s name and a custom drawing inspired by the child and created by nurses in the unit. Hand-drawn bunnies and ducks frolic, and tiny boats sail under the children’s names, reminding parents and caregivers that these are, after all, babies, who just aren’t ready to go home.
The art is the inspiration of Anne Bailey, RN, who was recently named Winchester Hospital’s 2018 Special Care Nurse. But Bailey said she cannot take full credit for what has now become a tradition.
“The crib cards that included the baby’s first name were already in use. I just started jazzing them up. I tried to make them cute and individual and to have some fun with it,” she said. “Now many other nurses draw, too, and we try to make sure each child has a special drawing.”
The illustrations are varied and inspired by the season or a parent’s special request. “We’ve drawn almost everything: llamas, giraffes, rhinos, kittens, puppies, raccoons, squirrels, ducks, chickens and rabbits. I try to make it a little seasonal. For babies who are born in the middle of winter, it might be a penguin or polar bear, but babies born in the spring might get a rabbit or a little ducky. Parents often say they are going to frame the crib card or put it in their baby book.”
Bailey’s worked at many hospitals in different capacities, but Winchester Hospital, where she has been a special care nurse for three years, holds a special place in her heart.
“It’s a phenomenal place to work,” she said. “It’s the best of all worlds because it has a high level of professionalism and the expectation that your decisions are evidenced based and that you are practicing at the top of what is accepted practice, but it’s also small enough that it has that real family, supportive feel.”
The Special Care Nurse Award is given to a nurse who serves as a role model, does things out of the ordinary, goes above and beyond, makes it easy for neonatologists to do their jobs, helps create a culture of safety and makes Winchester Hospital a great place to work. Bailey’s art was one of the reasons she was selected.
“I like to draw and have always been artistic. Doing this makes me feel very connected to the baby. I think of them seeing it in their own crib – something colorful and bright that might catch their attention,” Bailey said. “Because this is a very clinical environment, often babies can’t have blankets or toys or clothing from home. It’s good to have little pleasant touches that remind everyone that this is a very special child. Making it as nice as we can for people is one of the main jobs we do.”
To learn more about pediatrics at Winchester Hospital, visit our website.