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'Read-A-Thon' at Methodist Women's Hospital encourages family bonding while promoting NICU baby development

Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 14, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — At the Methodist Women's Hospital, NICU families are bonding through reading. It's part of an international movement the hospital is joining for the first time called the Read-A-Thon.

"The goal is to get people excited about reading and increase the number of times kids are being read to in the NICU," said Developmental Specialist Sheri Kimmey.

The program benefits families by bringing them closer together.

"Sometimes our parents can feel a little bit of a disconnect in their parental role in the NICU," Kimmey said. "This is a great way for them to feel connected with their infant."

Moms and dads love the idea.

"It's a lot of fun just, seeing (my son's) interactions and the way that he lights up sometimes when he sees certain pictures." Jonathan Leymaster, a dad said.

Kimmey spoke of the importance of reading to premature babies aloud, saying it helps them with development.

"It's not just hearing voices but its the rich language, the intonations that you hear when you're reading a story," she said.

The Read-A-Thon also gives parents a break from the anxiety that can come with having their child in the NICU.

"You're kind of putting in the back of your mind all the IV lines, all the machines," Gina Esch, a mom said. "You just have that experience where it's just you two."

48 families took part in the NICU Read-A-Thon. Methodist Women's Hospital is one of over 170 hospitals across the globe participating in the Read-A-Thon.

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