Volunteer cuddlers at Florida hospital help spur infant development

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 3:48 AM

Florida Hospital Helps Premature Babies With Volunteer Cuddlers

A program at a north Florida hospital pairs volunteers with newborns to give them love.

>> Read more trending news

The babies are in the neonatal intensive care unit at UF Health Jacksonville and sometimes their parents can't be with them.

UF Health Jacksonville is one of Northeast Florida’s biggest and busiest hospitals, but tucked away inside, there's a quiet place with tiny beating hearts and tiny hands just waiting to be held.

You could call volunteer Lavonne Mitchell a professional cuddler.

“I retired in 2010 from government and I had heard about them needing someone to rock and cradle the babies, just give them some TLC,” Mitchell said.

And that's exactly what she does once a week for four hours.

They may be only days old, but some of these babies have already faced major challenges.

“Some are here because their parents may be incarcerated and so they need someone. They need that voice, they need that touch,” Mitchell said.

Some are premature, waiting for adoption. Many are addicted to drugs.

Rana Alissa, medical director of the newborn nursery, said cradling the babies goes beyond just comfort. The human touch helps release a hormone called oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone.

“They feed better, they can maintain their temperatures better, they can maintain their blood glucose better,” Alissa said.

And holding them is not only important and good for the baby, but Mitchell said it is also good for her. She calls it a win-win.

“It's a great feeling inside. I feel very rewarded to know I could lend a hand to somebody in need,” Mitchell said.

It has become a labor of love for her. Who knew a simple touch when it comes from the heart can make a difference?

Trending - Most Read Stories

Democrats hope marches can sway Congress on guns

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

After watching lawmakers agree to two bills this week dealing with guns and school safety in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Democrats say the gun violence marches around the nation on Saturday have the chance to change the political dynamic on gun control in the Congress.

“Their hope gives me hope,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and others who have joined in calling for action on gun violence.

“Their determination gives me determination,” Nelson said at a U.S. Capitol news conference, even as he and other Democrats again acknowledged that they are far from having the votes to press ahead with gun control plans.

Among the plans that Democrats have focused on in recent weeks include:

+ The Manchin-Toomey ‘universal background checks’ bill, which would require checks for almost all private gun sales.

+ A federal law raising the minimum age to purchase a weapon to 21, mirrored on a law just passed by the state of Florida.

+ A ban on the sale of weapons like the AR-15.

+ Limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

“We have an important role to play in insuring that no students should ever be afraid to walk down the hallway of their school,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), whose district includes Parkland, Florida.

“It is our job, and everyone working in that building behind us, to pass laws, to keep our communities safe,” Deutch said at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol.

But the last five weeks were also a reminder of the difficulty of acting on any gun-related legislation – no matter how minor it might be.

The “Fix NICS” bill approved this week as part of a giant spending bill was bipartisan, yet it also had some sharp opposition from Republicans in the House.

And that makes the idea of the ‘Buy 21’ bill, or any ban on assault weapons, difficult to see getting through the Congress, unless there is major change in the makeup of the U.S. House and Senate.

“You know the politics, but you got to start somewhere,” said Nelson. “This is the first step at the federal level.”

“There is no better example of the youth of our country becoming engaged, than in this march,” said Deutch.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Police: Man shoots self, runs to mother’s house blocks away in Dayton

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 7:31 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:35 AM


UPDATE @ 3:05 a.m.:

The man who said he shot himself Friday night in Dayton has been identified.

>>Deputies: Man stabbed while walking in Jefferson Twp.

David Metcalf, 51, said he shot himself in the arm at his residence in the 2800 block of East Third Street then ran to his mother’s house, according to police.

Police recovered ammunition and suspected cocaine at Metcalf’s home following further investigation, a release stated.

It remains unknown if the man did shoot himself.


A man who was shot in the arm tonight ran inside his mother’s house.

Police and medics were called around 6:35 p.m. to the 3100 block of East Third Street after a woman said her son was shot and was bleeding profusely.

>> 911 dispatcher in Crawford shooting knew she erred saying ‘bullets’

He was taken by medics to Miami Valley Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

The man told police he shot himself in the 2800 block of East Third Street, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center. The area outside a home near the corner of East Third and Jersey streets was surrounded in yellow police tape.

The man’s name and age were not available.

A woman inside a residence where the shooting happened had a broken nose, and police said it’s under investigation whether the man shot himself.

Got a tip? Call our 24-hour monitored line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

Trending - Most Read Stories

Mississippi College students sleep outside to raise awareness about homeless

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:41 AM

Homeless people.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Homeless people.(Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Some college students from Mississippi wanted to raise awareness about homeless people, so they spent a recent night outside, sleeping in cardboard boxes, WAPT reported.

>> Read more trending news

“People don’t realize how many homeless people there are and exactly what they go through on a daily basis,” Mississippi College student Jessica Flemmings said. “It’s important for us to bring awareness to that, to hopefully eliminate the number of homeless.”

The students’ goal was to spend 24 hours camping outdoors. It was done as a way to observe March as Social Work Awareness Month, WAPT reported.

“We have not been able to eat unless food has been donated to us, which we have had success with, so we have not gone hungry, but it has been very cold,” Mississippi College student Paige Alcala said.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Congress approves $450,000 for Wright brothers factory buildings 

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 2:19 AM

Wright Airplane Factory buildings were occupied by Delphi until 2009.
Ty Greenlees, Dayton Daily News
Wright Airplane Factory buildings were occupied by Delphi until 2009.(Ty Greenlees, Dayton Daily News)

The National Park Service will have $450,000 to buy two historic buildings at the former Wright Co. airplane factory site in West Dayton, Ohio, under a $1.3 trillion federal omnibus spending bill President Donald Trump signed Friday.

>> Read more trending news

But the years-long quest to buy buildings 1 and 2, the first factory in the world to produce airplanes, is anything but over, officials said.

“It’s a small, positive step in a long, difficult march,” said Timothy Gaffney, a National Aviation Heritage Alliance spokesman.

The Park Service and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance have coveted the buildings in the hope the public would be able to see the site as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

Kendell Thompson, the park’s acting superintendent, said Friday he was waiting to determine what the next step is in the process.

The historic buildings are part of a 54-acre parcel, site of the former Delphi Home Avenue plant, that has been put on the commercial market. 

A previous plan to buy the entire site was scaled back, according to Tony Sculimbrene, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, who has spent years in negotiations on the future of the historic location.

The complexity of negotiations has been complicated by former owner Delphi’s past bankruptcy, land covenants and environmental liability concerns, Sculimbrene said. Former auto parts production buildings were demolished and the site has been environmentally investigated and remediated under a $3 million Clean Ohio grant, officials said.

Hull & Associates/Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC purchased the site in 2012 with the intent to remediate environmental issues and sell it. The property is for sale on the commercial market.

Brad White, a managing partner of Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC, said the $450,000 appropriation was “good news” because the intent over the years was to sell the historic buildings to the National Park Service.

David Lotterer, vice president of commercial real estate broker JLL, which is marketing the property, declined comment Friday.

While the park service has eyed the two historic buildings, Dayton Metro Library’s  plan to build a $10 million branch library on about 7½ acres on the site has stalled because officials have not been able to reach a deal, the Dayton Daily News reported this month.

Dayton Metro Library executive director Tim Kambitsch said earlier this month the library did not want to move to the site on its own because of concerns incompatible uses might move in nearby, and it did not want to pay more than the property was valued.

NAHA’s long-term vision for the property would bring commercial and “complimentary” industrial redevelopment, such as advanced manufacturing, to the former factory site, Gaffney said.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s airplane factory built 100 airplanes between 1910 and 1911. General Motors and later Delphi acquired the property, and built new factories to manufacture auto parts for decades. The Delphi plant was demolished in 2013.

Trending - Most Read Stories