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Santa Spreads Some Cheer At UC San Diego Hospital

Evening Edition

Aired 12/11/13 on KPBS News.

A special visitor dropped into UC San Diego Hospital in Hillcrest on Wednesday to spread some holiday cheer.

At first, Santa Claus got the cold shoulder when he walked into the neonatal intensive care unit.

That’s because nurses, doctors and parents were too busy caring for all of the babies.

But in time, Santa made the rounds and spent a few moments with the families and their new infants.

Augustine was born to Sheri Henderson about a week ago. He wasn’t due until the end of January.

Augustine has had some breathing issues and other health problems.

“A lot of long days. It’s been really scary," Henderson said. "But he’s definitely improving every day and we’re hopeful, you know, soon enough we’ll be able to take him home.”

Brian and Kim Itschner, who live in Temecula, feel the same way. Their twins, Tanner and Katelynn, were born nearly two months early.

“Yeah, we’d rather be home, but everything’s good here so far," Brian Itschner said as he held his new daughter. "So we’ll run home for the day to visit with family, on Christmas, and then come back down and see our kids.”

Itschner said it’s nice that Santa dropped by.

“One of the things we were excited about when we had ‘em is getting their first picture with Santa," Itschner said. "So, because they were in the hospital, we weren’t able to do that in a mall, or somewhere. So, we’re very happy that UCSD has Santa come in to be able to take pictures with the kids.”

Longtime nurse-manager Jan Hebert said it’s important to celebrate the holidays, even in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“It kind of reminds us that it’s not just a regular day, that we’re here to enjoy our babies, our families, and being together," Hebert said. "We’re a family.”

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