Cherished Portraits

picture of infants feet and parents' hands

In May, the Cherished Portraits program was honored by the American Hospital Association (AHA) with a Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE) for In-Service Hospital Volunteer Programs. The AHA HAVE Awards Program is in its 29th year and highlights the extraordinary efforts of volunteer programs across the country and the positive impact their contributions have on the patients, hospitals, health systems, and communities they serve. Members of the program received this special award during at the HAVE Awards Breakfast during the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Cherished Portraits program provides private, caring, professional portrait sessions for families experiencing stillbirth or newborn death, infants and children with life-threatening illnesses, children who are facing the end of life, or at the time of an unexpected death. Each portrait session, offered on-site by professional photographers who volunteer on an on-call basis, is individualized to reflect each patient and their family. The program addresses the emotional needs of families dealing with life-threatening issues in a positive and life-affirming manner. Each family receives an archival CD of the images which they can use to print portraits or create other mementos with the image of their cherished child. The portrait session and CD is provided at no cost to the families.

A special group of volunteers help triage the calls and ensure requests are divided equally between photographers. These volunteers, recruited from those serving in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, carry pagers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Staff Volunteer Supervisors coordinate the program and recruit professional photographers as volunteers, as well as orient hospital volunteers. More than 200 portrait sessions have been offered since the program started in in June 2007.

If you are a photographer interested in learning more about this program, please contact Sheila Frascht, Grief Services Coordinator, UI Children’s Hospital.

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