Santa visits UVA NICU
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Santa visited babies in the University of Virginia Medical Centers Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to spread holiday cheer on Tuesday.
Dr. Robert Sinkin is the division head of Neonatology at UVA, and he's also one of Santa's helpers.
He takes photos dressed as Santa with NICU babies to celebrate their first Christmas. He hopes to make Christmas joyful, even in the hospital.
Sinkin has been making the trek from the North Pole to the NICU since 1984, with the last 15 years spent at UVA.
For the past three years, he has been joined by a registered nurse, Naomi Rademeyer.
They both say they enjoy doing this every year, but this year has been particularly impactful.
"Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is very very difficult under the best of circumstances and at the time of the year, at the holidays, it's especially difficult. and so the idea of having some moments of joy, a photograph keepsake for the family, is extremely important,” said Sinkin.
The Chiles family had twins on Dec. 5, who were born at just 34 weeks.
They have stayed in the NICU to gain weight, and the family is so grateful for the special care the UVA Health System has given them, even during a pandemic.
"The barriers that have been put in the way because of COVID, Santa and Mrs. Claus still got to come. I mean how cool is that? We are just so excited that even though they are here, they still got to see Santa and got pictures of them for their first Christmas with Santa Claus,” said Mr. Chiles.
Due to complications, Mrs. Chiles was admitted to the hospital about a month before giving birth.
Since her delivery, the couple has been traveling back and forth to the UVA Hospital.
The family says they have had a great experience, and the Santa visit has been icing on the cake.
"The communication, collaboration, the thoroughness, and ruling out any and every option has been very comforting for us, so we are probably going to be a little sad to leave," said Mr. Chiles.
Santa and Mrs. Claus aren't the only ones getting families into the Christmas spirit.
One nurse even knitted Christmas hats for all of the NICU babies.
The Chiles twins are both expected to be out of the hospital in the next few weeks.