KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City hospital has launched a new program aimed at tending to the newest and tiniest patients.
When you peek into the NICU at Truman Medical Center, you might assume the woman in the rocking chair is a family member cradling a newborn baby. It may be a surprise, but Paula Schultz just met the baby boy she's holding.
For the past four weeks, Schultz has been giving babies a little extra love.
"There's no better job in the world than rocking a baby," said Schultz.
Every Tuesday, Schultz, who has an official title of "volunteer rocker," rocks babies in the NICU for two hours.
"We just sit and talk to babies and sing to them and love them," said Schultz.
"The human touch has proven to increase a baby's cognitive, physical and social development as well as decrease stress and increase weight gain," said Bailey Silvey, a registered nurse at Truman Medical Center.
On any given day, Silvey said there's anywhere from 12 to 20 newborn babies in the NICU, and only a handful of nurses.
"They give our babies extra care and affection that some of us nurses aren't always able to give due to us caring for higher acuity babies," said Silvey.
In January, the hospital started the new volunteer program in hopes of improving their health and babies out of the hospital faster.
"It definitely improves their growth, it improves their feedings, it improves their comfort level so that they are able to progress and hopefully get out of here sooner," said Silvey.
For Schultz, it's a bond she doesn't want to break.
"I had one little girl for three weeks and then she went home and I kind of miss her," said Schultz. "I can't imagine being a nurse that's here with them all the time."
All volunteer rockers go through screenings, background checks and trainings.
Those interested in volunteering should visit Truman Medical Center's website.