Blanchfield pediatric clinic observes ‘Unicorns for Natty’ Day

By Maria Christina YagerApril 25, 2023

Blanchfield pediatric clinic observes "Unicorns for Natty" Day
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Team members in Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s pediatric-based clinic wore unicorn themed attire for National Unicorn Day. Not only is it a day dedicated to the beloved creature popular with young patients, in YEMH it’s also a day dedicated to celebrating the life of a special little girl who loved them so. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
Blanchfield pediatric clinic observes ‘Unicorns for Natty’ Day
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Health Tech Nancy Pacheco sports a special tee shirt worn in the Young Eagle Medical Home for National Unicorn Day. The team observes the event April 13, rather than the actual date April 9, in order to honor the memory of a young girl called Natty. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Although it’s not an official federal holiday, the team from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s Young Eagle Medical Home came to work ready to celebrate National Unicorn Day.

Team members in the pediatric-based clinic, which provides a full spectrum of pediatric care to children 17 years of age and younger, wore specially printed unicorn tee shirts. Some nurses wore unicorn patterned scrubs and a few team members even had headbands that made it appear as though they had magical unicorn horns.

Unicorn Day is a big deal in the clinic. Not only is it a day dedicated to the beloved creature popular with young patients, in YEMH it’s also a day dedicated to celebrating the life of a special little girl who loved them so.

“There is actually National Unicorn Day, April 9, which fell on Easter this year. My granddaughter, Natalia, who was about 3 years old at the time, was having a bath and insisted on calling her ‘Big Grandma’, April 13, to tell her THAT day was National Unicorn Day,” said YEMH nurse Jennifer Huttman, explaining why the team celebrates on April 13.

A day dedicated to unicorns delighted Natalia, who Huttman and her family called Natty, for short.

“She was so excited. Everything was great and she was so thrilled. She passed away four and a half years ago from an accident, so we remember her by celebrating Unicorn Day,” explained Huttman, who admitted it took a couple of years before she could face the day that was so special to Natty.

“The loss of a child is an intense, overwhelming, and deeply painful experience. Some common feelings after losing a child include intense sadness, anxiety, difficulty accepting, confusion, loneliness, guilt, anger, loss of motivation to do anything,” said Lisa Broadhead, a licensed clinical social worker from the hospital’s Family Advocacy Program. “There is no right or wrong way to feel and the symptoms are varied.”

Friends can show their support by being available and acknowledging the loss.

“We tend to want to find the right words or phrases to say that will make them feel better. However, these words simply don’t exist. Therefore, I tend to find that I’ll listen and let them share about frustrations, challenges, angers, and such,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj) Jeremiah Catlin, the hospital’s chaplain, and Chief of Ministry & Pastoral Care.

Catlin supports patients and staff with spiritual and religious concerns and conducts the hospital’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group.

For families and coworkers who want to support someone grieving the loss of a child, Catlin said that it is important to know that your words will not make it better.

“Your focus is to be there for them when they reach out to you for help. Many times the simple daily tasks at first, making meals, paying bills, taking other children to school, household chores are all the tough things to handle when life hurts. Helping them by offering to meet some of their most simple tasks and needs will speak volumes and will open you up to being present when they do want to ‘talk’,” he added.

At such a time, Catlin said to remember to offer empathy. “It’s different than sympathy. If you ever start your words of wisdom towards them with ‘At least…’ you’re likely going the wrong direction. Focus on actions that speak louder than the words and you’ll do more for those grieving such a loss.”

“Just show it. You may not know what to say but being present is important. Listen without offering advice, judgement or solutions – being able to talk about their feelings or memories of their child may be their greatest support,” added Broadhead.

“We have a great team and we all rally around Ms. Huttman at this time and keep her smiling,” said Nancy Pacheco, a YEMH Health Tech who helped organize the event. “Natty loved unicorns and since she passed away, it is one of our ways to keep Natty with us yearly.”

Huttman’s team members in YEMH also organized a potluck lunch, which served as an opportunity for them to come together show their support for Huttman and her family and remember a special little girl.

“My team is amazing. Young Eagle is one of the absolute best places to work. They are very supportive. We try to be a family because we spend so much time together anyway,” said Huttman, who was touched by support from her team.

“A lot of the patients asked if it was pajama day, or what the special occasion was and we told them it was National Unicorn Day and we were remembering my granddaughter. She loved unicorns. Those were the best things in the world to her,” said Huttman.