Ipad Santa with Kaitlynn Lewis and Jayson Miller

Holidays in the Hospital

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December 24 was a special day for many children in Hampton Roads in 2014 -- was was Christmas Eve and the eighth night of Hanukkah. But 126 local children spent this special day at CHKD-- too sick or too weak or too tiny to go home.

The holidays can be a difficult time for young patients and their families who can't attend holiday gatherings at school or important family traditions they look forward to all year. For this reason, CHKD's staff members work around the clock to bring the holidays to the hospital.

The Child Life team decorates hallways and patient rooms, organizes holiday crafts and coordinates visits with community groups, sports stars such as New York Mets captain David Wright and, of course, Santa on Christmas morning. And in between Santa's actual visits, CHKD also arranges virtual visits, like this one with Child Life specialist Kaitlynn Lewis and patient Jayson Miller, thanks to the support of Cisco, Inc.

On Christmas Eve, traditional holiday favorites appear on the patient menus -- turkey and mashed potatoes and a special holiday-themed cookie.

"We hope that everything we do will foster a sense of normalcy for our patients and their families," says Shannon Hood, manager of CHKD's Child Life team. "My eyes tear up when I think about it, because everyone helps. My staff actually requests to work during this time so they can be a part of an amazing experience. We truly get to see a special kind of healing take place."

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