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DAISY Moments — UF Health Jacksonville NICU Brings Joy to Our Smallest Patients

Ashley Aderhold, BSN, CLC, a NICU nurse and Council co-chair, was recognized in April 2019 with a DAISY Award for her hard work in bringing joy to NICU babies and their families.

Ashley Aderhold with flowers and balloons

Ashley Aderhold, BSN, CLC, a NICU nurse and Council co-chair, was recognized in April 2019 with a DAISY Award for her hard work in bringing joy to NICU babies and their families.

It’s not how parents imagine spending their newborn’s first holidays, but the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UF Health Jacksonville is taking steps to ensure special moments don’t go by unnoticed. Ashley has taken up the task of bringing holiday cheer to our smallest patients and their family members. Ashley has been working in the unit for almost two years and has already made her mark.

After seeing ideas online for infant Halloween costumes, Ashley discussed the idea of creating costumes for the NICU babies with her nurse manager, Ellen Gregory, RNC, BSN, LRN. Ellen encouraged her to write a proposal to Infection Control and NICU Medical Director, Josef Cortez, MD.

“It’s very sad when families miss out on holiday moments due to a NICU stay for their little one,” said Ashley. “We wanted to bring happiness to these parents to provide some sense of normalcy.”

As a Level III (highest designation) regional referral center, UF Health Neonatology – Jacksonville is committed to providing safe, high-quality care. The team agreed to move forward and established protocols for keeping infection control at the top of mind. Ashley consulted with nurse colleagues and parents about desired costumes to create. Within six weeks, she made 55 costumes by hand using felt material.

The babies donned their costumes on Oct. 31, and represented everything from Minions to sea animals to super heroes. Parents even got to take home their child’s costume as a keepsake.

Part of Halloween costume for the baby
Superhero logos for baby costumes

“This was the first time our NICU came together to implement a project like this,” said Ashley. “We worked hard to better involve everyone early on to set boundaries and reassure infection control.”

In addition to Halloween, the NICU also brought Santa to the unit and developed a family support group to bring families together during special events. Parents expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the unit’s effort to go the extra mile to brighten their day.

The unit has also felt a reinvigoration and excitement for keeping the momentum going for holiday celebrations. With the reestablishment of the NICU Council, there is a greater sense of buy-in among nursing staff, and everyone has been supportive and continued to help to bring ideas to life.

“I always keep in mind that it’s the little things we can do to make positive change one day at a time,” said Ashley.

About the DAISY Award

DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The DAISY Award was established by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at 33 of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, an auto-immune disease. The Barnes family was awestruck by the clinical skills, caring and compassion of the nurses who cared for Patrick, so they created this national award to say thank you to nurses everywhere.

Anyone can nominate a nurse for the DAISY Award. On the online nomination form, select the DAISY option to submit a nurse for this recognition.

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