Even a pandemic can't stop Santa.

Santa Claus made his annual trip from the North Pole to visit intensive care babies in three Kansas City-area hospitals recently, while masked up and socially distanced.

Santa visited critically-ill premature babies at Center Point Medical Center in Independence, Research Medical Center in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

“The holidays are one of the most poignant times for families to have babies in the NICU,” says Dr. Rob Holcomb, neonatologist. “HCA Midwest Health’s NICUs and our physicians and nurses take the tiniest and sickest of these babies and nurture and nourish them. Part of that mission is to minister to the families, creating positive, lasting memories for them, especially during the holidays. Sharing the Christmas spirit while giving hope to families going through this difficult journey and give them something they wouldn’t otherwise have experienced — their babies’ first visit and photo with Santa, It’s a highlight of my year.”

It's a small gesture, but one that is making a big impact with staff and family.

“These days, the NICU is quieter than usual, as far as visitors coming and going,” says Candace W. of Raymore, Mo., whose daughter, Kayleigh, was visited by Santa. “Although our little girl didn’t stir at all during the visit, I actually enjoyed the cheer that he brought to the staff. They are incredible and deserve some Christmas cheer! His visit also gave my kids at home a fun picture of their new sibling to look at.”