KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you have a child that was born in an East Tennessee hospital, you’ve probably heard about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The program was started by Dolly Parton to promote children’s literacy and gives free books to children from birth to age five.
One Knoxville hospital system was honored on Monday for making sure that new parents are aware and signed up for the program before they leave the hospital.
COVID-19 has made working in the health care field even more difficult than it was before said Holly Woodlee, the Nurse Manager at the Childbirth Center at Parkwest Medical Center,
“With all the COVID regulations and rules added, it’s been a stressful time.”
She adds that in the midst of a pandemic, her nurses at the Childbirth Center at Parkwest continue to put their patients first.
“Our nurses have really held on through this trial that we’ve been through, and you know, recently somebody said that this is going to be the greatest generation of health care workers to have ever been and that’s an honor.”
Part of these nurses’ jobs is to make sure parents and their children have all the resources they need before they leave the hospital. This includes enrolling their newborn in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.
“You register the children at birth which is what they’ve done such a great job doing here at Parkwest birthing center, and the goal is to receive all 60 books before they start kindergarten,” explained Bonny Naugher with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Knox County.
In Knoxville alone, there are 20,000 children registered and Parkwest Medical Center is the top-ranked registration partner for the program.
“We got an award today for being a top contributor for the Imagination Library and it’s an honor,” Woodlee said with a smile.
Bonny Naugher adds, “It’s never a dull day at a birthing center, I’m sure. So we really really appreciate these nurses making sure that these children are registered for the Imagination Library because there’s a million other things they have to do as well before a new baby’s discharged.”
With everything these nurses have to deal with in the middle of the pandemic, they continue to make sure that literacy is a priority for new parents.
“We have devoted staff that are here for the patience and they’re showing up every day in such tremendously difficult conditions and doing everything they can to be the best and first choice,” said Woodlee.
To mail 20,000 books in Knox County every month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Knox County has to raise about $250,000 dollars every year.
People can donate by visiting: www.knoxlib.org/growingreaders