“I had a daughter. Her name was Alicia. She died on the same day she was born and that was 40 years ago,” explains Jona Sager. “The room that I spent the time in after she was born was originally a storage room. I can tell you about the shades on the window and the cracks on the floor. It was a pretty unpleasant experience.”
So, Jona Sager, now a neonatal intensive care nurse, wanted to give other parents a different experience during the hardest time of their lives. She and friends created Alicia’s Angels Family Care Room in the new NICU at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.
“One of the first things we wanted to do was hide medicine,” says Sager, noting she wanted to bring home to the hospital through personal touches like stuffed animals, an afghan and a seaglass mobile.
Peaceful colors – blues and greens – are meant to soothe. The murphy bed is dressed with fine linens.
“Two parents can spend the night here together,” says Sager. “They don’t have to leave their baby’s side if that’s what they choose to do.”
“I think it provides some measure of comfort in an otherwise really difficult time,” says chief of neonatal medicine Mark Mercurio who believes the space means progress. “Actually helping people deal with the death of either a newborn or anyone else in any age group is something I think the medical world has gotten far better at.”
Sager says Alicia planted the seed. This mother and grandmother is honored to help grieving families make memories they’ll cherish.
“So forty years from now when they think of their baby, they’ll think of peace and beauty. That was our goal,” she says.
Sager hopes to bring more Alicia’s Angels Family Care Rooms to other hospitals all around the country.
Click here to learn more about Alicia’s Angels.