Dismas Charities St. Ann Residents Create Blankets For Louisville Hospital Neonatal ICU

Occupational Therapy students from Spalding University and Jefferson Community and Technical College completed a six-week internship by leading the residents of the St. Ann Substance Abuse Program in creating sixteen “No Sew” blankets that will be donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University of Louisville Hospital. The design of the blankets is specific to the needs of infants born with substance dependence, or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Each blanket, which will come with a letter of support from staff and the residents, is to be draped over an incubator in an attempt to dull harsh light and sounds within the hospital, as infants born with NAS struggle with sensory overload.While these babies endure the symptoms of withdrawal during the first days of their life, they are often inconsolable, separated from their mothers, and have difficulty eating and sleeping. Often, clinicians opt to administer daily doses of morphine to infants born with NAS to subdue pain and anxiety, and subsequently wean them off over a 12-week period. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), roughly 15 of every 1,000 children born in Kentucky are diagnosed with NAS, twice the national average. The letters accompanying the blankets offer encouragement to the families, with the sentiment being that the on-going recovery of each resident may provide hope and strength for the days ahead. The St. Ann residents were reminded of their own children and grandchildren during this project and, using leftover fabric, made blankets to take home after program completion.

Posing with the finished blankets are from left are Occupational Therapy students Shelby Warren and Desiree Kuhn, and Occupational Therapist Toni Crawford with University of Louisville Hospital NICU

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