Nothing says Merry Christmas like watching children tell Santa their secret holiday wishes. On Tuesday evening, Porter Regional Hospital’s associates and families gathered for just that, and some merry-making, too, at the hospital’s annual Cookies with Santa event.
Porter Health Care System has been planning and hosting family-focused events several times a year through the Employee Engagement Committee, which organizes unique events to bring their families together for fun outside of work.
“Everyone has a huge impact here and works really hard for our patients,” said Jared Smith, Assistant CEO at Porter Regional Hospital. “These events are a good way for us to show appreciation to our employees and their families. They work hard each and every day and we want to show them that we care not just about them, but also about their families.”
For the last three years, Cookies with Santa has been a hit. Families enjoyed hot cocoa and cookies while mingling with each other as they waited for Santa to appear. Then, with a cry of “Santa’s here!” the children rushed out to watch Santa arrive via a lights-flashing Porter EMS ambulance with a hearty “Ho, ho ho!”
Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with two elfin helpers, met with each child, listening to their wish lists and offering words of encouragement to “keep being good” and “listen to their parents.”
This year, the children also wrote a letter to Santa and put it in the special mailbox. Some precocious little ones decided to skip the box altogether and give their list straight to Santa himself.
And it wasn’t just the children who took the opportunity to say hello to Santa. Some of the staff visited on their breaks, eliciting smiles all around.
For many of the families, Cookies with Santa was an opportunity to don their most festive holiday attire (Christmas pajamas, of course!) and capture a precious holiday moment that can be treasured for years to come.
“These events are really nice. They’ve started doing more family events and it’s been great to have something local to attend and get a chance to see the people you work with every day,” said Jessica Buibish, Porter Regional Hospital employee. “We came out tonight because my kids wanted to see Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas.”
Fostering a family feel is important for Porter. The more they create a familial relationship among the staff, the more that staff then passes that family-focused care to patients.
“We want to make sure that whenever we’re caring for patients here we treat them like family,” Smith said. “ A big part of that is co-workers treating each other like family and caring for each other. That kind of positive mentality and approach is contagious.”
“We’re a community hospital, so it’s important to bring in employees and their children and provide these free community events. It keeps everyone involved and you get to see and interact with co-workers outside of the working environment,” said Stephanie Combs, Director of Patient Experience at Porter Regional Hospital.
“When you see all of the kids come in smiling, happy, and excited, you see the parents light up and it just helps to build a family atmosphere at the hospital,” Smith added. “Anytime you can pause to appreciate one another, have fun, and celebrate successes, it’s great for morale.”
For more information on Porter Regional Hospital, visit their website at https://www.porterhealth.com/