Santa visits with newborn Emelyn Schuelke inside Chambersburg Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit
Friday, December 21, 2018

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Often, the greatest gifts come in the smallest packages, and even just a glimpse inside Chambersburg Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit validates the adage.

Newborns receiving specialized care inside the unit, including Emelyn Schuelke, Fayetteville, born December 19, were paid a special visit by Santa Claus on Friday.

But it wasn’t just any man in the red suit spreading the cheer, behind the beard and felt was a different figure of significance, Summit Health’s President and CEO. Pat O’Donnell had heard of the efforts by the NICU’s staff to do something special for the families who would spend Christmas in the hospital and didn’t hesitate to help.

“Part of our organization’s vision is Inspiring Hope, and the tiny babies inside this unit are our hope for the future. As a parent I can only imagine how difficult it would be to spend a child’s first holiday in the hospital. We wanted to share a bit of joy with these families during what we know is a challenging time,” he said.

The gesture by staff brought one of the baby’s parents to tears, as they commented the visit “gave them a sense of normalcy” during their infant’s stay in an intensive care unit. The hospital provided the families with professional photographs of their baby with Santa as a keepsake of the visit.

The level II NICU was opened in January of 2016. Inside the unit, specialized staff work alongside WellSpan Health neonatology providers to deliver intensive care to babies born prematurely, or to full-term babies born with complications.

Before the unit was opened, babies needing intensive care were transferred out to other area hospitals, often an hour or two away from Chambersburg.

“It is amazing to know we are here for our community in this way, that our friends and neighbors no longer need to travel for that level of care,” O’Donnell explained.

For more information on Chambersburg Hospital’s NICU, please visit SummitHealth.org/NICU.

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 Summit Health is now a part of WellSpan Health. Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community. As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, urgent care centers, and two award-winning hospitals. More information is available at www.SummitHealth.org and www.facebook.com/SummitHealth.