Santa will spread holiday cheer at four HCA Midwest Health neonatal intensive care units. HCA Midwest Health is Kansas City’s leading healthcare and NICU provider, caring for more critically ill newborns than any other area healthcare system.
The Kansas City Mavericks, owned by the Lamar Hunt Jr. family, is sponsoring the event; Plowboys BBQ, Donutology and Tippin’s will donate food. The Circle of Hope Foundation, which provides social, emotional and financial support for parents with babies in the Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU, will provide décor, food and other items. Students from Blue Valley School District will provide a musical backdrop. Award-winning photographer Jessica Strom will capture baby’s first photo with Santa, which will include tiny red Santa hats, crocheted and donated by Strom and the community.
Neonatologist Rob Holcomb, M.D. will reprise his role of Jolly Old St. Nick to bring the spirit of the season to families with critically ill infants in the NICUs. Each preemie will receive a tiny, hand-knitted Santa hat and a photographer will capture baby’s first photo with Santa.
“The holidays are one of the most poignant times for families to have babies in the NICU,” says Overland Park Regional Medical Center Level III NICU Medical Director Kathleen Weatherstone, M.D., neonatologist. “HCA Midwest Health’s NICUs and our physicians and nurses take the tiniest and sickest of babies and nurture and nourish them. Part of our mission is to minister to families and help create positive, lasting memories, especially during the holidays.”
As a result of the life-changing NICU experience, many parents have a new perspective on gratitude. Former NICU families—also known as "NICU Family Graduates"—include James Arkell and Sarah Hunt Arkell whose son, Michael, spent five weeks in the Overland Park Regional Medical Center Level III NICU.
“Sarah and I lead a life with intentional gratitude and the NICU experience heightened that,” Arkell says. “We’ve never been to a place so frequently in such a short period and had such positive and loving experiences every time, from housekeeping to the compassionate nurses and physicians. Though we were anxious to leave with a healthy baby, once it was time to go home with Michael it proved difficult—we built relationships we could only imagine, making lifelong friends. It’s important for us to pay it forward this year for the families going through the difficult journey.”
“On behalf of the Kansas City Mavericks, I’m pleased that we can assist with providing comfort this holiday season,” says Mavericks owner, Lamar Hunt Jr. “Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s NICU was there for our family and we are honored to recognize their efforts—along with Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center’s NICUs.”
“HCA Midwest Health NICUs have the best and brightest staff and physician experts in the region,” says Katie Gonzalez, Circle of Hope founding member and Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU mom. “These physicians and nurses take fragile, sick babies and nurture and nourish them as if they are their own—something I’ve seen firsthand as a NICU graduate mom. It’s a stressful time for families and event is one way that families, like the Arkells, can give hope to families going through the difficult journey.”