Santa brings cheer to NICU

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- For 10 years, George Pressley has helped bring some holiday cheer to the smallest patients at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Pressely was in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit earlier this week visiting, distributing gifts to and posing for photo opportunities with the patients and their families.

The way he held some of the infants in his arms demonstrated that he has not lost enthusiasm for what he does.

"A lot of these babies will never make it," Pressely said. "This is something these parents will have to hold onto."

The opportunity to do this every year means a lot to Pressely, but it has an even greater meaning for those on the receiving end.

"It helps boost the Christmas spirit," said Debbie Hill, whose daughter Ashanae Hill is in the NICU. "It gives you a little light. It lets you know they (the Phoebe staff members) are going the extra mile."

Emma Nicole Harper, also known as Nicki, was due March 4 but instead arrived on Dec. 1. Since then, she has been in the neonatal unit.

One of the things that has gotten her parents through the ordeal is the staff that has been taking care of her, as well as some of the other families under similar circumstances.

"We love all these babies; we share a bond," said Stephanie Oxley, Nicki's mother. "The people (the NICU staff) have a special gift. They are so great; they care about everyone. If you are nervous, they help you through it.

"They (the babies) are angels sent from God."

With assistance from the NICU staff, the gifts Pressley distributed to the infants were T-shirts featuring four types of holiday designs.

Nicki and Ashanae were among the 39 infants being cared for in the NICU as of Monday evening. Three babies had been discharged earlier in the day.