Volunteers to comfort babies needed by Faxton St. Luke's

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - When volunteers leave their shift as a mother-baby volunteer at Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare, they can't wait to go back.

"I've never met a baby that I don't love, so that's the reason I volunteer," says Carol Babowicz.

The primary purpose of the volunteers is to hold and comfort crying babies in the special care and regular nurseries at the St. Lukes campus of Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare.  With a possible three-one baby/nurse ratio in special care and as high as six/one in the regular nursery, it's a frequent need.

"You know, they're used to being held tight, because they're used to being inside their mother,  they're used to hearing a heartbeat and that's what they're used to for nine months," said Assistant Charge Nurse Lesa Steele, "and all of a sudden it's taken away. It's troubling."

"Their mothers might go home because they have other children ... maybe their mothers had a Cesarean section and their mothers really need some sleep, so they can hold those babies and comfort those babies," adds Steele.

It's an arrangement that greatly benefits the volunteers as well.

"My grandchildren are at an age now where I can't cuddle them anymore. They don't want to be cuddled. They're 14, 17 and 5. They don't want to be cuddled anymore," says Babowicz.

The mother-baby volunteers are thoroughly trained and screened. The Children's Miracle Network helps pay for this.  On the rare occasion there aren't any crying babies who need comfort in either nursery, the volunteers to other things, such as fill out name tags or prepare cribs. They're not permitted to feed babies or change diapers or transport the infants from the nursery to their mothers' rooms.

First-time mom Martha Zabek was at son Owen's side in the special care nursery on Friday, where staff are closely monitoring his weight gain. She said that, should the time come she can't be there for a brief time, it helps to know a loving person like Carol is there to comfort her son if he needs it.

"I think it's lovely that there's someone here to hold the baby so he's not crying and upset and so he feels safe and secure," says Zabek.

To learn more about becoming a mother-baby volunteer at Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare, contact Susan Warwick at 624 6052. Because the hospital makes an investment training and screening the volunteers, they're requiring a steady, four-hour commitment per week. Volunteers can arrange to put in more hours. Once they volunteer once, many do just that.

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