New volunteer baby hugging program launches at Nanaimo General Hospital

NANAIMO, BC, January 15, 2018 – Island Health announced today the launch of the latest Huggies® No Baby Unhugged® program at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH). The volunteer baby hugging program aims to help ensure all babies, especially those in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), receive much-needed physical human interaction should circumstances prevent a parent from being at their side. 

After successfully launching the same program last year at Victoria General Hospital and seeing the positive impact in patient care, Island Health partnered with Huggies® to bring the program to NRGH to benefit babies in the NICU and Pediatric Unit. 

“The lifelong impact that comes with something as simple as a hug is so profound for a baby in need,” says Island Health Interim President and CEO Kathy MacNeil. “We’ve seen families thrive first-hand as a result of our hugging program in Victoria, so we’re thrilled to expand this initiative to benefit the needs of our Nanaimo community.” 

As part of the new hugging program, three specially trained volunteers will be available, and on call, whenever a neonatal or pediatric infant would benefit from this specialized care. Volunteers will cuddle, rock and sing to newborns, often for several hours at a time. The program will also leverage the $25,000 grant provided by Huggies® to further promote hugging and skin-to-skin within the Pediatric Unit, including rocking chairs, positioning devices, volunteer training and more.

This hugging program is fulfilling an essential need to ensure all babies in the NRGH NICU and Pediatric Unit are receiving the stimulation they need during a critical period in their treatment plan. NRGH admits a variety of NICU and Pediatric Unit patients with specialized needs, including babies experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which refers to symptoms babies show after being exposed to addictive substances in utero. 

A video capturing the unique hugging program at NRGH can be viewed here.

Island Health is the latest organization to implement Huggies® No Baby Unhugged programs through a partnership with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC). To date, Huggies® has provided a total of $100,000 in grants to initiate and support four baby hugging programs in Canadian hospitals, including Nanaimo Regional General HospitalVictoria General HospitalCape Breton Regional Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre, benefitting hundreds of babies admitted to NICUs and PICUs each year. 

“CAPHC is proud to enable patient-centered, innovative and affordable strategies to help improve the experience and outcomes of some of our most vulnerable patients and their families,” says CAPHC’s CEO, Emily Gruenwoldt. “Our partnership with Huggies has resulted in direct value to our member hospitals, their patients and the health care system more broadly.”

At this time, Island Health’s volunteer hugging program is full. There is currently a substantial wait list of internal candidates who are already volunteering with Island Health and wish to be considered for this program in the future.  To volunteer for another Island Health program, please refer to Island Health Volunteer Resources.  To learn more about how you can support the Huggies® No Baby Unhugged® initiative, visit

About Island Health

Island Health, one of six health jurisdictions in British Columbia, provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River. 

With more than 19,000 staff, 1,900 physician partners, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.

About The Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC)

The Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) is a non-profit organization recognized as a leader in advancing the improvement of healthcare for Canada’s children and youth. CAPHC’s mandate is to affect system-wide change in the delivery of healthcare services by focusing on innovative initiatives and programs that have broad national relevance. Today, CAPHC is proud to support inter-professional child and youth health care providers and families from more than 70 organizations in Canada. To learn more about CAPHC’s programs, partners, and services, visit or follow us on Twitter, @CAPHCTweets.

About the Huggies® Brand

Huggies® believes deeply in the Power of Hugs. That’s why every Huggies® diaper and wipe is inspired by parents’ hugs. For nearly 40 years, Huggies® has been helping parents provide love, care and reassurance to help babies thrive. No Baby Unhugged® is Huggies® promise to ensure babies get the care they need to thrive, including innovative everyday products, growing hospital hugger programs, specially-designed products for the smallest of babies, and on-going clinical research and resources. Huggies® is the #1 diaper brand in Canadian hospitals and partners with NICU nurses to develop diapers and wipes that meet the specific needs of pre-term infants. For more information on Huggies® No Baby Unhugged® program visit

About Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world’s population trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds the No.1 or No. 2 share position in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company’s 143-year history of innovation, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Media Contacts:

Island Health
Adrienne Breen

Veritas Communications 
Laura Patton