FirstHealth’s tiniest patients take part in read-a-thon

Staff, patients and families of the Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital will take part in a friendly competition between NICU’s to see who can read to their patients the most during the month of September.

Babies with Books is a student-led early literacy organization that creates and supports NICU reading programs. The NICU reading program was first launched at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, and in three years since it started, it has spread to more than 170 hospitals across the United States and in Canada, Europe and beyond.

According to neonatal specialists at Moore Regional, reading to premature babies provides many benefits for patients and families alike.

“NICU reading promotes infant brain development, fosters family bonding, and decreases infant and parental stress related to intensive care hospitalization,” said Laura Valleni, M.D., neonatologist at Moore Regional. “We’re thrilled to participate in this program and further support our NICU babies and their families.”

The read-a-thon will take place Sept. 12-22 in conjunction with NICU Awareness Month and National Literacy Month. As part of the program, each baby in the NICU will receive a book to keep that will accompany information on the importance of reading. The number of reading sessions and average daily census during the read-a-thon will be tallied and submitted to Babies with Books.

Moore Regional plans to extend Babies with Books into a year-round program that includes a shared reading library that will be available for family members and staff to use to read to babies in the NICU. Moore County Partners for Children and Families is generously supporting the effort by bringing the Encouraging Early Literacy program to the NICU.

This program includes a free book for each baby admitted to the NICU, parent education about the importance of reading and brain building infant activity cards and literature.

“We’re thankful for the generosity of our community partners to support this program,” added Dr. Valleni. “Encouraging Early Literacy promotes early brain development, family integrated care and bonding while babies are in the NICU. Together, we are creating a positive experience for our families that will have a lasting impact on our youngest patients.”

The Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst is staffed by specially trained nurses and physicians to treat premature and sick newborns. The 13-bed unit is family-centered to ensure that infants requiring more than routine nursery care can still have their families close by.

Feature photo: Dad Logan Arnette of Richmond County reads to his son, Jackson Arnette, who is held by mom Megan Covington. Baby Jackson was born Aug. 27, 2022, and is a patient in the Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.

Courtesy photo/Contributed.

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