July 2017 – Philadelphia, Pa.
The BennettStrong Foundation, with the assistance of helpful volunteers, continue to provide cloth hearts to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Newborn/Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU). For the past two years the foundation has donated nearly 3,000 cloth hearts to the N/IICU as a way for parents to bond with their child.
Mary Pellegrino, co-founder of the BennettStrong Foundation and N/IICU parent, took it upon herself to make sure every baby and parent in the unit had a heart. The idea of the cloth hearts also known as ‘scent hearts’ came from nurse Kasey Kernke, B.S.N., R.N.C.-N.I.C., and the Micropreemie Committee in the N/IICU.
“The hearts quickly became an integral part of our N/IICU journey,” said Pellegrino. “For the first eight weeks of Bennett’s life he couldn’t be held. This was one of the only ways we could bond until I could finally hold him. As a mom, it’s hard to watch your child fight for his life and not be able to hold him, console him”.
The concept of the hearts is for parent and baby to each receive a cloth to keep close to their skin so their scent transfers to the cloth. Then they swap hearts so parents and baby can be close to one another’s familiar scent. This positive input aides in the bonding process of parent and baby. The hearts are given to parents by various clinical staff in the N/IICU. It’s been reported that even dads are wearing hearts, too!
For more information on the hearts or if you’re interested in being a sewing volunteer please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.