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Intermountain nurses play Santa for babies in the ICU

Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 15, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Newborns in the ICU at Intermountain Medical Center and Primary Children's Hospital were still able to have their photos with Santa this year thanks to nurses and volunteers who dressed up like St. Nick to continue this heartwarming tradition.

“It’s hard to have a baby in the NICU at any time, but around the holidays, the stress and sadness can hit new levels,” said Alice Casper, RN, Intermountain Medical Center newborn ICU nurse manager.

“For years in our NICU we’ve had Santa come in and meet and take pictures with our tiny patients. Then when COVID hit, and even Santa wasn’t allowed to visit, we had to find something different to do.”

Primary Children’s caregivers and Intermountain Medical Center volunteers provided the necessary gear of a white beard and potbelly, gloves, and a red furry coat, with photos taken from the beard to the belt to hide their masked faces.

Nurses say that the "My First Christmas with Santa" photo is an important part of caring for the fragile babies and their families during the holidays, and that families often use the pictures on Christmas cards and other holiday greetings.

“It’s Santa magic that we get to bring a slice of joy to these families,” said Santa’s helper Jo Duff, assistant nurse manager in the Primary Children’s newborn ICU.

“I know that these parents are entrusting us with their beautiful babies every single day, and it breaks my heart that they have to be here. So, if we can make it just a little bit brighter and joyful for them, it’s the greatest honor and privilege in my life.”