Children Find A ‘Bright Space’ While Siblings Are In Intensive Care At CU Hospital

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – When a newborn needs intensive care parents spend countless hours in the hospital. Brothers and sisters may get tired of tagging along. But one local hospital has created a cure for sibling boredom. It’s a rec room and a refuge … a brand new “bright space.”

“This is our newest little peanut,” said mother Ryan Walker.

Daughter Anarae Grace was born May 19. She arrived about 6 weeks early and weighed just 4 pounds 8 ounces.

“She was exactly half the size of my second baby,” said Walker.

Tiny Anarae has been in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Colorado Hospital. According to her mom, “She’s mostly just needed to learn to eat and grow.”

While mom cares for Anarae, big sisters Gabby and Mia Marmaro get to play. The girls are with grandma Shari Walker just steps from the NICU. They are enjoying the hospital’s brand new “Bright Space.”

“I like it,” 7-year-old Gabby told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh. “Because there are so many books and I like to read.”

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh in the Bright Spaces room (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh in the Bright Spaces room (credit: CBS)

Kids can read there, watch movies, and even color. The space is designed to keep siblings entertained, and it allows mom to relax a little.

“Mindsettling,” said Walker, “to know that everybody is okay and it’s okay to just sit and be with the baby.”

The room is dedicated to a NICU nurse.

“You can tell by her smile she was just a wonderful person,” said Christy Math, nurse manager of the NICU.

In March nurse Kortnee Hein died suddenly.

“You couldn’t have a conversation with Kortnee without hearing about how her family was doing and we all loved that about her,” said Math.

It’s a bright, safe space to combat boredom created in memory of a tender, fun loving friend.┬áThe Bright Spaces room is made possible because of a grant from the Bright Horizons Foundation and March of Dimes.

The NICU is part of the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health, a partnership among University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado School of Medicine that offers mothers, babies and their families comprehensive care and treatment before, during and after routine and high-risk pregnancies.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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