Volunteers conducted 670 reading sessions, tripling their goal for the Read-a-thon.

HCA Florida Brandon Hospital ranked ninth in a worldwide Read-a-thon for caregiver reading sessions with babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Nurses, physicians and caregivers from departments across Brandon Hospital, as well as volunteers, read stories to infants over the 11-day competition from September 11-21. The Brandon Hospital team conducted 670 reading sessions with NICU babies during the competition, more than tripling their goal.

This year’s Read-a-thon was the third annual competition aimed to support infant brain development, family bonding and reducing stress. The 2022 event included 154 NICUs around the globe with a total of 31,879 reading sessions with NICU babies. It’s the first year HCA Florida Brandon Hospital has participated in the competition.

“Reading to babies is so important for their brain development, bonding with their families and relieving stress. We really made a mark. It’s amazing that our caregivers were in the top 10 for reading sessions to infants in a worldwide Read-a-thon,” said neonatologist Dr. Bianca Karber. “It has been an incredible sight to see so many caregivers and volunteers from across the hospital make such a commitment to infant health by reading to our tiniest patients.”

The Read-a-thon has extra special meaning to Karber. The NICU team at Brandon Hospital started a library in honor of Karber’s baby girl, Pippa, who she lost during pregnancy earlier this year. Pippa’s memory lives on through the legacy of the library and with each book that’s read to babies in the NICU. Throughout the Read-a-thon, caregivers read books from Pippa’s Library.

Beyond the Read-a-thon, the NICU is continuing to accept applications for volunteer cuddlers to snuggle and read to babies in the NICU. To apply, email angela.anderson2@hcahealthcare.com. The NICU is also accepting donations of baby books to Pippa’s Library. If interested in donating, please reach out to laura.stauter@hcahealthcare.com.

HCA Florida Brandon is located at 119 Oakfield Dr. in Brandon. For more information, visit www.hcafloridabrandonhospital.com.

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