Microbiology lab staff members with some of the hats they made for NICU babies
Einstein Obstetrics

NICU Babies Get Holiday Caps Handmade by Lab Staff

By on 12/21/2018
Alexander Gomez, a newborn in intensive care at Einstein, wears a green cap crocheted by technicians from the microbiology lab.

Alexander Gomez, born Dec. 13, 2018

Dan Le has been crocheting “forever,” as she puts it – mostly hats and scarves for herself, her family and friends. This year, she decided to put her relaxing hobby to another purpose. She recruited her fellow lab technicians at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia to make holiday caps for the tiny, vulnerable babies in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

Earlier this month, Le and her colleagues donated more than 100 caps, in reds and greens and other bright hues, to the NICUs at Einstein Philadelphia and Einstein Montgomery.

They crocheted the hats at work, together, when they were on break in the microbiology lab of the Department of Pathology. They did it at home, too. Some of them learned to crochet to participate in the project. Others donated money for yarn.

“I thought it would be good coming from us, for the babies,” said Le, who’s been at Einstein for three years. “They’re so tiny and cute and we wanted something for their heads.” Babies in the NICU are premature or require extra medical attention after birth.

Le said she was inspired by a social media post about an organization, Project Sweet Peas, which created infant Halloween costumes and donated them to the NICU babies at Einstein Montgomery.

“I thought, we can do that, too. We can make hats for the babies,” she said.

Maryann Malloy, nurse manager of the NICU at Einstein Philadelphia, was thrilled to receive the hats. “The holidays can be difficult for families with infants in the NICU, and these kind gestures make a difference,” she said.

Le and her microbiology lab colleagues – who examine samples of tissue and bodily fluids for abnormalities – found  the NICU project so gratifying that they’re going to have another holiday crocheting project next year. The team includes Michelle Wright, Duanea Hicks, Emily Duchensky, Kim Toms, Kim Curran, Lisa Provost, Tanya Bilyi, Debbie Pommells, Jimmy Dill, Aileen Chua, Binh Truong, and Debbie Barrish from the histology lab.

“This is just one example of how our department has people who are very dedicated and invested in contributing to the community,” said Nancy Young, MD, Chair of the Department of Pathology.

Le said she learned how to crochet from her mother and grandmother, with help from YouTube videos. “Crocheting and knitting have been my go-to whenever I’m stressed out,” she said. “The clicking sound of the knitting needles and its repetitive, rhythmic movements just take my mind off of things. And it feels very rewarding whenever I finish a hat or scarf for people I love instead of buying them.”

Next year, Le said, perhaps the group will crochet hats and scarves for the homeless. “We can start now,” she said.

Learn more about NICU care at Einstein Philadelphia and Einstein Montgomery.

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