Italy: Rome children’s hospital makes Christmas wishes come true with hug curtain

Rome: Rome’s S. Raffaele hospital has made the wishes of its little patients come true after the children had asked Santa Claus to help them to hug their parents, following months of separation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The hospital has set up a plastic “hug curtain” which allows the children to hug their parents, siblings and grandparents safely, just in time for Christmas, without covid-19 risks.

There were emotional scenes in the hospital this week as in some cases parents haven’t been able to hold their child in their arms for several months, with one mother calling the embrace “an indescribable emotion.”

The hospital’s director Amalia Allocca told reporters: “The children wrote in their letters that their greatest wish was to be able to hug their brother, sister, father or grandmother. That was the reason that pushed me.”

Following an on-site covid test, the so-called tenda degli abbracci or curtain of hugs allows parents to insert their arms into plastic sleeves and embrace their children through the transparent sheet, in what is reportedly the first of its kind in an Italian paediatric hospital.

Andrea, who has been hospitalised for three months at S. Raffaele, with his mother by his side, wrote a letter to Santa Claus with the wish that he could finally hug his papà again. Thanks to the new hug curtain, his wish was granted.

“After a year like this – without hugs, without parties, without grandparents, without games – a hug, even if ‘plasticised’, can make the difference. Meeting eye to eye after a long time is wonderful,” says Allocca.

“You don’t need much else, you need warmth, you need the security that the curtain gives without the distance that covid imposes. You need the scent of love that nothing will ever erase.”