Thirty-four years ago, Geraldine Sanders suddenly received terrifying news. Her mother, who worked in a large commercial laundry, had caught her arm in a press and been badly burned. She was treated at what was then called John Gaston Hospital, and Geraldine never forgot the professionalism of the staff as they cared for her mother.
Through the decades, she has watched this small city hospital grow into a regional medical center housing award-winning trauma and newborn centers. And it was the newborns that caught her attention.
“One Sunday in March of 2009, I was reading an article in the Commercial Appeal. It said that tiny newborn babies sometimes lack basic clothing to wear home when leaving the hospital. So a Baby Clothes Closet had been established that people could donate to. That article touched my heart,” she says.
“I decided I wanted to help these babies in whatever capacity I could. So I started donating a little bit every month, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Regional One Health delivers around 5,000 babies per year. Twenty-five percent are high-risk deliveries, served by the High-Risk Obstetrics Center. If newborns are premature or critically ill, they are treated at the Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center, which includes one of the nation’s top Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
Of course, premature and high-risk deliveries often occur without warning, so parents don’t have time to pack everything they need. This is especially true if they have to travel from outlying counties in Regional One Health’s five-state service area. Other parents simply need assistance with the expenses of a new baby. The Baby Clothes Closet helps meet their needs at a critical time.
This past March, Geraldine received a guided tour of the facility. “I was able to go into the nursery and see the newborn babies. I knew then I had made the right decision and was donating to a worthy cause.”
It was her first visit since her mother’s injury so many years before. “It has improved tremendously,” she says. “I was very, very impressed with the entire facility, but especially the Newborn Center.”
“We’re told to love God and love our neighbors,” she says in conclusion. “I feel like this is a great way of doing that.”