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Mercyhealth NICU Babies Gifted Handmade Halloween Costumes

Dressing your newborn up for Halloween is a memorable moment for most parents, but for babies born prematurely, a traditional costume isn’t always an option as they recover in the hospital. But Mercyhealth is making sure parents don’t miss out on their baby’s first Halloween experience, thanks to one incredible nurse.

JoAnn Gorsline, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse at Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside, handmade more than 52 costumes to ensure babies who stay in the NICU at Mercyhealth in the month of October have a Halloween costume. All costumes are unique and handmade by JoAnn. New costumes this year include Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Babybel cheese, a cheeseburger and French fries.

“Parents always comment about how they love having the costumes. It makes the stay easier, it makes having a baby in the NICU seem more normal, not so (much like being in a) hospital and out of the ordinary … just some normalcy in the middle of a very trying time in their lives,” said JoAnn.


Mercyhealth is designated by the state of Illinois as a Level III Regional Perinatal Center. This designation is the highest in the state, reflecting Mercyhealth’s specialized expertise and comprehensive resources to treat the smallest and sickest babies.

As the Northwest Illinois Level III Perinatal Center, Mercyhealth is the referral center for the 11-county northern Illinois region, including Rockford and the surrounding area. Mercyhealth also provides services to three southern Wisconsin counties.

Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside is home the region’s most experienced Level III 52-bed NICU, which features the region’s only 12-bed Small Baby Unit, caring for the smallest preemies, those babies born less than 30 weeks’ gestation. The Small Baby Unit provides a developmentally supportive environment with subtle lighting and limited sound to mimic the womb.