The birth of a baby is a reason to celebrate, whether it be a son, daughter, grandchild or anything in between.
But for anyone who may experience a birth at Altoona Regional, there's a new way to honor the new life, which also benefits the hospital.
The ninth floor maternity ward has built a colorful, cheery new sea-themed recognition wall where anyone wishing to commemorate a new birth may purchase a plaque for the "Sea of Tiny Bubbles." Each bubble contains the baby's name, date of birth and footprint, and can remain on the wall for a year after the first donation.
Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich
Gayle Conner, development associate from the Foundation for Life at Altoona Regional, poses with new mother Wendy Burket and her 5-week-old daughter, Jerrika Jo, in front of the “Sea of Tiny Bubbles.”
Jerrika is one of the first children whose birth will be commemorated by a “bubble.'
All proceeds from the Sea of Tiny Bubbles program will directly support the maternity department through Altoona Regional's Foundation for Life.
"The main reason that we have the wall up there is for the community to have a hand in helping make their maternity department updated and more state of the art," said Gayle Conner, development associate for the foundation.
"I think it's going to be a positive thing
because it's such a beautiful addition to the maternity hallway. Anybody who goes past it always stops."
Kay Burket was one of the first people to purchase a bubble, which will hang in honor of her grandchild, Jerrika Jo Burket, who was born on June 12 to Wendy (Eicher) and Chris Burket of Claysburg.
Kay Burket said she's glad the money will go directly to the maternity department, as all three of her grandchildren were born at Altoona Regional and it's always been a pleasant experience.
"I think it's a very nice addition," Burket, 62, of Claysburg said. "I hope other people have an idea of the value, and what the wall can mean on the ninth floor."
Conner said the money from the sale of bubbles will initially go toward purchasing new TVs, furniture and an updated security system in the maternity ward. She also called it a "blessing" that a donation from the Altoona Mirror funded the overhead costs for the wall.
"Now, any donations from day one can go right to maternity," she said.
Kathi Rutherford, a maternity nurse who has been working for Altoona Regional since 1977 and chose the name for the wall, said equipment needed for the department is expensive, and any help they can get to defray that cost is a huge benefit.
"It all goes to a good cause, that's for sure," Rutherford said.
After one year, those who have purchased bubbles have the option to keep them up for an additional fee or take them home for a keepsake. Conner said she hopes this will catch on as a great way to to recognize or commemorate a birth at Altoona Regional.
"It's a keepsake that you can have for the rest of your life," she said. "Every time you look at [it], it will bring you back to the place it all started."
Donation rates are $75 for a 3-inch bubble, $100 for a 5-inch bubble, and $60 for any additional bubble to give as a gift. Bubbles can be kept on the wall longer than a year for a $75 annual donation. For more information, contact the Altoona Regional Foundation for Life at 889-6406.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.