It can be difficult for young children and their families to have an extended stay in the hospital, especially during the holiday season. To give them a break from typical hospital life, the staff members of various departments at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach worked together to bring the Christmas spirit to life during an event called Winter Wonderland on Friday, Dec. 10.

Dozens of patients, some still in their hospital gowns, and their families were invited to spend their time collecting gifts from many vibrantly decorated, Christmas-themed booths set up by departments of the hospital, pet therapy dogs dressed in holiday costumes, listening to Christmas carolers, and, of course, meeting Santa Claus and getting a special gift from him.

This event is coordinated by the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s, whose mission it is to help make the hospital experience more positive for children of all ages.

“It’s important that we give our young patients a bit of normalcy in their life, and there’s no easier way to do that than helping them celebrate the holidays here at the hospital,” says Rita Goshert, director, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “It really does make a big difference in some of these families’ lives. It’s also a great morale booster for employees because they get to see the joy and excitement from patients.”

Parents and children alike were moved by the hospital’s effort to help them celebrate the holidays. “She was super excited to see Santa,” says Veronica, mother of Adaline, a 5-year-old patient at Miller Children’s & Women’s. “It means a lot to see her excited and get the chance to interact with people. Seeing her happy means the world to me.”


A young patient meets Santa for the first time at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.

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