Virtual support groups are helping families with NICU babies connect during the COVID-19 pandemic
For those in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy, who have experienced a complicated birth, or have a baby in the NICU, life can be stressful, isolating, and incredibly lonely. Add an international health pandemic to the mix, and the stress can be compounded even more. Many of these families rely on support groups to get through trying times, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, congregating with others is not encouraged. Hand to Hold, a nonprofit organization for NICU families, has launched virtual support groups for NICU families to address this challenge and help them get the support.
The program, sponsored by Kimberly Clark’s Huggies® brand, is modeled after Hand to Hold’s in-person and in-hospital support groups. The best news of all? The virtual services, hosted via Zoom conference calls and led by certified peer support specialists, are available free of charge to all families and caregivers of NICU babies. There are multiple groups a week in both Spanish and English, and each will give NICU families the opportunity to connect with one another, sharing their personal experiences and feelings, discuss coping strategies, and offering comfort and support during the COVID-19 crisis and the recovery that follows.
“NICU families are facing escalating mental health challenges due to virus infection fears, additional financial concerns, limitations on when they can visit their baby in the NICU and being socially isolated from their support system of family and friends,” Kelli Kelley, NICU parent and founder/CEO of Hand to Hold explained in a press release. “Our online support groups are designed to provide NICU families with a virtual ‘hand to hold’ and emotional support during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Additionally, Hand to Hold will be offering new podcast episodes for NICU parents and NICU nurses, as well as private Facebook groups, which serve as safe places for NICU parents to ask questions and connect with other families.
“We are honored to partner with Hand to Hold as they provide this lifeline of virtual care for parents and nurses, especially as their access to support may be limited during the current health crisis,” Rebecca Dunphey, President of Baby and Childcare, Kimberly-Clark North America, said in the press release. “We have Huggies hospital partners and NICUs top of mind right now, and ensuring they have Huggies products and services, like these virtual support groups, available to help care for their tiniest patients is a priority and privilege.”
Impressed with how Hand To Hold pivoted so quickly during the coronavirus to maintain their committment to helping NICU families.
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