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October 31, 2018

'Boo in the NICU': How hospitals are getting their tiniest patients into the Halloween spirit

Daily Briefing

    Children in the hospital don't always have the opportunity to celebrate Halloween, but at these hospitals, providers are getting pediatric patients and their families into the Halloween spirit.

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    'Boo in the NICU'

    Arkansas Children's Hospital this year is hosting its third-annual "Boo in the NICU," in which families get to pick out a costume made by volunteers for their baby.

    Luann Jones, the nursing director of Arizona Children's NICU, said, "When you do have a baby in the NICU it's really tough and sometimes you feel like rest of the world is moving on without you." The hospital said the annual costume event aims to make families feel more comfortable during their stay.

    Candice Ward, a mother of a NICU patient, called "Boo in the NICU" a great experience. She said it's "particularly fun to be able to have the memories and the pictures" of her son in the costume. She added that dressing your child up for Halloween "is something that is a more normal part of life."

    Shriners' costume clinic

    Last year, Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City started its hospital costume clinic, in which volunteers use power tools, cardboard, PVC pipe, and other supplies to transform patients' wheelchairs into a different costumes—from spaceships to firetrucks to race cars.

    Matt Lowell, the director of the hospital's seating and mobility program, started the clinic after hearing from parents that Halloween costumes for children in wheelchairs were difficult to find. "We had no idea what we were doing, but we learned as we went along," he said. "It turned out to be the most rewarding thing we'd done all year."

    Lowell said he's heard nothing but good things from parents. "I heard things like, 'My boy went from being the kid nobody wanted to trick-or-treat with to the coolest kid on the block,'" he said. "They now feel included, and that's how it should be."

    After hearing about Shriners' clinic, Spirit Halloween, a costume supplier, donated to the hospital's costume fund and said it will be working with Lowell on designing wheelchair-friendly costumes that it plans to sell nationwide for $100 each.

    Todd Lowe, a zone manager for Spirit Halloween, said the company is "inspired by [Shriners] and what they're doing. Kids with physical limitations deserve to participate in Halloween the same as any kid" (WKRG, 10/17; Free, "Inspired Life," Washington Post, 10/26).

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