Ottumwa Girl’s Project Expands to Pella Regional to Help Grieving Parents
PELLA, Iowa –Alexandra Reeves, an Ottumwa High School senior, Girl Scout Ambassador and creator of Forever Angels, was at Pella Regional Health Center on Monday, February 20, to present a Cuddle Cot to the physicians and staff for use when parents have a stillborn baby.
Dealing with the death of a baby is an incredibly difficult event for parents. Because many stillborn babies die hours or days before birth, their skin and tissues are very fragile and many times families can only spend a very short time with their baby. A Cuddle Cot system cools the baby's body while in the hospital room allowing the baby to remain with the family thereby providing the family with time they need to photograph them, hold them, bond with them and say goodbye.
Forever Angels was created as a result of Alexandra’s Girl Scout Gold Award project. The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA. To secure funding for the Cuddle Cot Alexandra contacted several organizations. The system that will be used at Pella Regional was funded by River Hills Community Health Center, Masonic Grand Lodge of Iowa and the Des Moines Eagle Riders.
“The Cuddle Cot is a remarkable product that allows parents to spend that special quality time with their baby and say goodbye when they are ready,” said Karen Westercamp, Manager of Obstetrics at Pella Regional Health Center. “With Forever Angels, Alex has really found a way to give families time with their baby that may not have been possible otherwise.”
Beyond the Cuddle Cots, another part of Alexandra’s Forever Angels project was to have volunteer seamstresses sew burial gowns called “Angel Gowns” for stillborn babies and small infants who pass away. It is difficult for grieving parents to find an appropriate outfit for burial, especially for a premature stillborn who may only weight a few pounds.
Alexandra started a Facebook page called Forever Angels. Through postings on that page the group gets dress donations. Alexandra approached sewing groups in the area about sewing for the project but now also gets seamstresses by word of mouth. Because of wonderful support and success of Forever Angels, Alexandra has expanded this service to many hospitals, including Pella Regional.