Erin Ball, at left, and Gabe Gossett collaborated on the Little Library in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU at Madison Hospital. CONTRIBUTED

Ball’s idea leads Gossett to build NICU library for Eagle project

MADISON – Erin Ball’s idea led to a source of comfort for newborns’ parents and motivation for an Eagle Scout service project.

Erin Ball, a Staff Registered Nurse who has worked at Madison Hospital since its 2012 opening, “had the clever idea of creating a lending library within our NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) Nursery as a convenience for parents who want to read to their newborns,” Madison Hospital President Mary Lynne Wright said.

Coincidentally, Gabe Gossett from Boy Scout Troop 351 had asked Wright about possible projects at the hospital that he could tackle for service work to attain his Eagle Scout rank.

“Babies in the nursery actually spend a lot of time just resting. We only do things with them or ‘cares’ at certain times as long as the baby is doing okay. Even then, the nurse does a lot of it, and the parents can feel like they don’t get to do (much) for their baby,” Renee Colquitt said. Colquitt is Director of Perinatal Services, which includes Labor & Delivery, Level II Nursery and Mother-Baby Unit.

Usually, NICU babies rest so they can improve. Parents spend much time sitting and looking at their baby. “Many parents like to read to them to feel like they’re doing something to help. Hearing parents’ voices can be soothing to the baby as well,” Colquitt said.

Ball had witnessed the parents’ need for books, because parents don’t always expect their baby to need hospitalization and don’t bring material to read to their baby.

Storybooks have been the focus that parents can read to their child, but parents would enjoy fiction/non-fiction books. “The baby doesn’t really know what parents are saying. Just hearing their voice is nice for the baby,” Colquitt said.

In generous outreach, “a mom, Lane Wallace, donated our entire wish list on Amazon for our library. She had a twin demise delivery with us last year. (The donation was) such a wonderful way for her to honor her babies,” Ball said. Lane and Dylan Wallace are parents of twin boys, Daniel James and Jonah Isaac.

“Gabe went above and beyond to build the beautiful ‘Madison NICU Little Library’ that will help new parents make lasting memories with their babies,” Wright said.

After his service project at Madison Hospital, Gabe Gossett is closer to achieving Eagle Scout status. “The rank is important to me because it shows my dedication to Scouting and is an important achievement highlighting years of service and leadership,” Gossett said.

Gossett is in Troop 351. His Scout Master is David Sybuck.

Scout leaders helped with Gossett’s project plan, while several Scouts helped on construction day. His stepfather gave tremendous support. “I really appreciate working with Erin Ball in making the project happen,” Gossett said.

“Mrs. Erin shared that babies with stronger bonds to their parents require less medication and have a shorter stay,” Gosset said. He learned that reading is a wonderful way for parents to bond with their baby.

His mother, Sandra Martin, works as a Program Analyst with Intuitive Research and Technology and is a Colonel in the Army Reserve. His father, Michael Gossett, retired as an Army Lieutenant Colonel and lives in Arkansas.

“My stepdad, Allen Martin, is also in the Army Reserve and studying to become an emergency medical technician,” Gabe said. “My older brother, Samuel Gossett, is an Eagle Scout and a Firefighter with Huntsville Fire and Rescue.”

“We are a family that highly values service to our community and country,” Gabe said.

A senior at James Clemens High School, Gabe likes to build computers in his free time. Undecided about a specific college, he wants a degree related to computer engineering.

“I am so proud of Gabe and this project, and I can’t wait to see the library getting used!” Ball said in a Facebook comment.

Anyone who wants to donate new or gently used children’s books to Madison Hospital’s Little Library can email erin.ball@hhsys.org.

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