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Young patients had a chance to visit the courtyard and pick out a tree and ornaments to decorate their hospital rooms.

Published Dec 13th, 2023

By Casandra Andrews

When you can't leave the hospital for the holidays, sometimes they come to you. That’s what happened on Wednesday, Dec. 13, when patients at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital visited an outdoor courtyard that was transformed into a miniature tree-farm, complete with inflatables and a sprinkling of snow.

As flurries floated in the breeze, patients had a chance to visit the courtyard and pick out a tree and ornaments to decorate their hospital rooms. Some were pushed in wheelchairs and pulled in strollers, while others made their way on walkers to take part in the timeless holiday tradition.

Local Ace Hardware stores provided metallic trees, plus popcorn, cotton candy, coloring sheets, ornaments, and volunteers to assist patients and their families. Ace Hardware is a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals community partner for Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

“It’s so important for our patients and families to be able to experience the joy and wonder of the holiday season,” said Debbie Browning, MSN, RN, CENP, chief executive officer at Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “This is a new tradition we started with ACE Hardware that we hope can become even bigger and brighter in years to come.”

Members of the Mapp Child and Family Life Department worked to create a winter wonderland in the hospital courtyard, then helped patients and caregivers select trees that were turquoise, purple, white or natural green. Research shows that helping to normalize the hospital experience through celebrations and other events can decrease the anxiety and stress of being hospitalized.

For those unable to leave their hospital rooms, staff members delivered trees, decorations and treats to patients and their families.

Carlton Paris, co-owner of several Paris Ace Hardware stores on the Gulf Coast, said watching the children’s faces light up was the best part of the day. “It’s been awesome to see them pick their own trees,” he said. “We are excited to share Christmas with those who aren’t able to be at home.”

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