For 'National Volunteer Appreciation Week' We Meet A NICU Cuddler

A man volunteers once a while in the NICU cuddling the little babies!

Fox 4KC

When babies need a little bit extra help when they are born they are sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU is full of beautiful babies who might be a little too small to go home yet, they may be a little sick, or they might have to get a little extra help breathing. Parents come in and see their young babies often, but there are times that they cannot be in the hospital. Many parents have other children at home that they have to take care of, and many other's have to work during the day. They can't hold their infant throughout the entire day. During the times when the babies are not being held, they are being laid down by themselves in their crib. Many volunteers throughout the nation go to the NICU and hold the babies when their family cannot.

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This week is  "National Volunteer Appreciation Week" and we want to give a special shout out to one of the St. Luke’s best cuddlers! Bob McElwain is one of the many people who volunteer their time to spend with the little ones at the hospital. McElwain jabs and says that he is a volunteer, but he feels way overpaid! He simply loves his job!

Fox 4KC

McElwain says that he takes his time to go around and hold all of the babies that he can. He said that he likes to give them financial advice, share his opinions on the stock market and he talks about baseball. He says that they are very good listeners and they don't have much to say. He calls the little babies his listeners. While in the interview, McElwain, grabbed one of the young little babies nestled in his crib. He was born three weeks premature and was diagnosed with down syndrome. He says that he just places them on his chest and talks with them and they usually sleep through the entire cuddle.

McElwain and his wife have been doing different volunteer positions throughout the hospital for about 20 years. He started working as a cuddler in the NICU about 5 years ago when they opened the program. The program has been so much fun and McElwain knows how important it is for the babies to have more one-on-one time with human interaction. He admits that it would be much better to have their parents there all the time, but that isn't feasible. The young boy he was holding has a 10-year-old sister at home that mom has to take care of as well. She can't be at the hospital all of the time. McElwain says that this is the best day of the week and he feels like he should be paying the hospital for letting him cuddle all of the babies!

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