Deck the halls at Grey Nuns Hospital NICU

Santa quietly enters baby Merlin’s room. Her mom, Manju Wilson, places the precious little girl, whom she has dressed in a festive sleeper for the occasion, into the cradled arms of the jolly old elf. Merlin was born 11 days ago, at 32 weeks, weighing only three pounds, so it is an unexpected surprise for her whole family that she is celebrating her first Christmas.  

“We are doing well,” says Manju. “The visit from Santa was very nice.”

Santa is played by Andrew Posh, the husband of Katie Posh, one of the registered nurses on the Neonatal Intensive Care unit (NICU) at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital. The unit cares for babies born at 30 weeks and older. Katie says she wanted to provide a Christmas memory for families who won’t be going home for the holidays. One of her own children spent time at the Misericordia Community Hospital NICU, so she has an idea what parents are going through. 

“A baby’s first Christmas is a special thing; I just wanted to spread some cheer during what can be quite a stressful time,” says Katie.

The entire unit is decked out for the holiday season. Unit Manager Val Harrison applauds the spirit and enthusiasm of the entire NICU team. For close to two decades, she has led the charge, but it is her staff who take the reins when it comes to the actual decorating.

“I come up with the theme a year in advance and collect decorating ideas throughout the year to fit the theme. This year it is Merry Christmas from our home to yours,” says Val. “The staff then take the ideas and run with them.“

About 30 doors are elaborately decorated and all the railings on the unit are wrapped with garland and handmade bows.

For Katrina Dickie-Bould, the effort the staff put in at Christmas is just one example of their dedication. Katrina has been at the NICU with her son Coen since Nov. 12.

“The staff love their jobs 100 per cent. They love these babies,” says Katrina. She then pauses to compose herself before adding, “The nurses are really amazing; it has been incredible.”

Katrina Dickie-Bould’s son Coen was born at the Royal Alexandra Hospital at 28 weeks weighing 2 lb. 15 oz. He was moved to the Grey Nuns NICU in mid-November.

(From left) Andrew Posh (Santa) with Katie Posh, the nurse who came up with the idea to offer families the opportunity to have their baby’s first photo with Santa. Nurses Molly Grundy (elf) and Chetna Patel volunteered to be Santa’s helpers.

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