Dave Deutchman, comforting a sick infant at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta (Screenshot: Today Show YouTube)


Dec 11, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

These "NICU Grandpas" Have The Best Job: Comforting And Cuddling Sick Babies

The babies treated at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) get something special as part of their care in the NICU: snuggles from a "grandpa" like Tom Umstead.

Umstead, or "Mr. Tom" to the people he serves, dedicates much of his time as a "NICU grandpa".

“I like to play with the children, and read to them,” Umstead said. “A lot of the families like to talk,” he added, noting his frequent volunteer work at the local Ronald McDonald House as well.

“The two days that I come into the hospital are the best part of my week,” Dave Deutchman, another NICU volunteer, shared with TODAY in a recent interview.

"When I started coming here, people said what are you doing there?” Deutchman said. “I say, ‘I hold babies, I get peed on, puked on, it’s terrific.'”

"I’ve never lost my composure in the hospital, but there were times over the years where I’d be at home reading the book and be staring at the same page for 20 minutes," he added, explaining the harder parts of the job. "I’m thinking about the kids, and I wouldn’t even realize I was doing that until I feel tears running down my face. You don’t walk out of here unscathed.”

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