Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Santa visits Avera NICU families

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The Avera McKennan NICU had a very special visitor just in time for Christmas. Santa Claus and his elf took a break from toy-making to make sure that even the tiniest of ones got a chance to meet and take a picture with the big guy.

“This one we have right here is Ava, Delilah and Brystol,” said Tomlynn Paulsen.

The Paulsen triplets are meeting Santa for the very first time – something their mom says she’ll cherish forever.

“They’re like normal kids and you still get to make all those memories,” said Paulsen.

“Even though it’s a hospital, this is kind of your home and your room. F or some of our kids, for two or three months,” said Katherine Wang, medical director for the Avera McKennan NICU.

Dr. Wang says it’s never easy having a child in the NICU, especially during the holidays.

“A lot of the families who are coming are actually, one of things they were looking forward, especially at Christmas was a new baby – the whole family’s looking forward to it to show off. So they kind of feel it a little more acutely because you have their support group who is anticipating having a new baby for the holidays and now the baby’s in the hospital,” said Dr. Wang.

From Pierre, Paulsen says it’s tough being so far away from home.

“Their dad comes down every weekend to see them and family is always here but it’s definitely not what you would think it would be spending time away,” said Paulsen.

“Anything we can do to bring some smiles to their faces, at least temporarily forget about their problems that are going on, is just wonderful and appreciated,” said Dr. Wang.

It’s visits from Santa and nurses going the extra mile that make these NICU families’ home away from home not feel as much like a hospital.

“They give you little stockings and have you make little ornaments and do little stuff with their foot prints,” said Paulsen.

“I admire our families. No one wants to be in this position and they do a great job with it. It’s a tough time to be here. It’s tough to be here at all, especially in the holidays away from your families not celebrating with everyone else,” said Dr. Wang.

“They are amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It just fills your heart with joy and love,” said Paulsen.

The Paulsen triplets turned two-months-old on Christmas Eve.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.