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CHI Health St. Francis displaying newborn photos on digital billboard

CHI Health St. Francis displaying newborn photos on digital billboard

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Since the pandemic began, people haven't been able to visit newborns in the hospital, so CHI Health is sharing the baby photos on a digital billboard by Cornhusker Toyota. The photos rotate and are up for two weeks. The photos have been displayed on the billboard since the first of the year. (Independent/Josh Salmon)

During the pandemic, the community still gets to see CHI Health St. Francis newborns thanks to a digital billboard.

Anissa Paitz, a public relations strategist for CHI Health, said the hospital began displaying photos of newborns on a digital billboard just north of Highway 281 and Old Potash Highway, across from Hy-Vee Gas Station, at the beginning of the year.

Beth Deida, a labor and delivery nurse at CHI Health St. Francis, said the hospital’s maternity patients are “like our family” and that the billboard is a way to “show off” the newborns.

“Just like any proud parents, we are excited to show our newborns off, especially right now with a lot of negativity and sadness in the world. This is just a great way to spread joy. When people see it, they can smile and think of something happy. I think it is a great way to show off our babies, show off how proud we are of them and really spread some joy in our community.”

Deida said the digital billboard cycles through each of the submitted newborn photos along with other, unrelated advertisements. She said each of the photos will be displayed for two weeks before the next set of photos goes onto the billboard.

The billboard photo displays “Hello growing family” and welcomes each new baby by name.

Deida said the billboard is a way for family and friends of the newborns to see them in light of the hospital’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“Truly, in somebody’s lifetime, how often have they been on a billboard?” she said. “To be able to have that opportunity in the first week of life is just really cool. It is fun for parents and their loved ones to be able to drive by and see it.”

Kylee Bender of Polk said it is “pretty special” to have a photo of her newborn son, Cooper, displayed on the billboard.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “I like to show off my little guy. I was tagged on Facebook a lot for the application. Some friends said, ‘You need to submit your photo so that your little guy can be on the billboard.’ So I did that.”

While she has yet to visit the digital billboard to see Cooper’s photo displayed, Bender said she plans to visit it and take photos and videos of it as a keepsake. She said her friends and family have responded positively to being able to see Cooper’s photo on the billboard.

“Sometimes I will get random texts saying, ‘Look, it’s your little guy,’” Bender said. “I like how this shows the community — especially in light of COVID — positivity. There has been lots of loss this year, but it’s an opportunity to look at all these new lives we are bringing into the world.”

Bender said she also likes seeing the other newborns.

“It is nice to see other babies that are my baby’s age on there,” she said.

Deida said families of newborns born at CHI Health St. Francis can submit their baby’s photo at CHIHealth.com/BabyPhoto. There is no cost for families to have their newborn’s photo displayed on the billboard.

“They just have to go on there, fill out their consent to allow their baby on there (the billboard). Then, they can upload their baby photo and it will be displayed within a couple weeks of being submitted.”

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