News Release

Date: March 12, 2008 

Dedicated Volunteer Has Tiniest Babies Covered at UC San Diego Medical Center 

 

More than 600 Blankets Crocheted By One Pair of Loving Hands

“I’ve crocheted 664 baby blankets since 1993,” said Joan Graves, 71, a volunteer and retired UC San Diego Medical Center nurse. “I don’t consider it work. The time spent is instant gratification. Each blanket is a joy to create for these fragile infants.”

Joan Graves

Joan Graves holds one of more than 600 blankets she has crocheted for UCSD Medical Center.



When Joan Graves was a nurse at UCSD Medical Center more than fifteen years ago, a coworker promised to teach her how to crochet if she made 1,000 blankets for the babies in UCSD’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU.) Graves agreed to the deal and has crocheted hundreds of comforting bright-colored blankets for tiny “preemies” who eventually graduate from UCSD’s NICU to their homes across San Diego.

Every year, more than 3,000 babies are born at UCSD Medical Center-Hillcrest, the only hospital in San Diego with both a regional Level III NICU and a labor and delivery service in the same facility. More than 700 babies per year spend up to 3 months in the 40-bed NICU where they receive 24-hour supervision and care.

When low birth weight is an issue, maintaining the baby’s body temperature can be extremely difficult, requiring specialized incubators and heaters. Graves’ blankets are an added measure of warmth and care for infants who weigh less than a pound and can rest in the palm of a hand.

Mom with twins

Ronyt Sprung holds her twins for the first time with blankets crocheted by Joan Graves.

Graves, a resident of Allied Gardens, estimates that she spends up to five hours crocheting each blanket. In the more than 3,000 hours she has spent crocheting these blankets, Graves has never slowed down except to knit slippers for the Ronald McDonald House in Oregon where she also volunteers her talents.

“We are all grateful for Ms. Graves’ presence here,” said Rich Liekweg, Chief Executive Officer of UC San Diego Medical Center. “Joan is a one-of-a-kind volunteer whose energy and compassion inspires those around her. We thank her for her exceptional service.”

In April 2008, the NICU at UCSD Medical Center-Hillcrest will expand in size. An additional 9 licensed beds will be added to the 40-bed unit to accommodate the increasing numbers of premature babies and multiple births in the San Diego region.

The UCSD labor and delivery service, specializing in high-risk pregnancies, and the NICU, are highly specialized, nationally recognized centers of excellence providing the highest level of care available for pregnant women and newborns.

# # #

Media Contact: Jackie Carr, 619-543-6163, jcarr@ucsd.edu