A baby sat outside the operating room at the Janeway Children’s Hospital recently with a family who drove hundreds of miles for the baby’s operation.
Dr. David Price, chief of surgery, recalls long discussions with many levels of administration trying to figure out how to fit the baby’s scheduled surgery into a jam-packed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“‘You may just have to take your child who needs an operation and go home,” he recalled saying.
“But that won’t happen now,” Price smiled as he spoke with The Telegram.
That’s because the Janeway is getting a new special care unit designed specifically for surgery for babies under age two.
The four-bed unit will relieve pressure on the busy intensive care unit while also improving care for surgical babies.
“The stress that was involved in making sure that youngsters got their surgery was monumental." Dr. David Price
The unit will be on the fourth floor of the Janeway and it’s set to open in May.
“It’s a big benefit to the families,” said Karen Rice, division manager for medicine, surgery and medical day care at the Janeway.
“Everything in health care fluctuates. So, today might be OK and then 12 o’clock tonight there could not be a bed. That was the crisis that NICU was facing is that, all of a sudden, the occupancy was full,” she said.
When NICU is full and there are babies scheduled for surgeries that they need immediately, Janeway staff were faced with trying to fit everything in. Sometimes it meant babies needing surgery had to travel out of province.
“The stress that was involved in making sure that youngsters got their surgery was monumental,” said Price.
With the new special care unit, Price said that stress will be “vastly ameliorated”.
Another benefit of the special care unit is that parents will be able to spend the night with their children — something they can’t do in NICU because of risks of spreading viruses.
It’s estimated the special care unit will have 500 “bed days” per year — that’s the number of days a bed will be occupied.
The unit has been at least a decade in the making since Price first came up with the idea. He credits three others for helping to make it a reality: Mary Baker, who was manager of the NICU but is now retired; Kevin Chan, clinical chief at the Janeway; and Rice.
Price also credits people who donate to the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“Those people that are out there giving $25 — it all adds up, and that’s how we get here.” — Jenine Kerrivan
The unit is a million-dollar project and funds for it will come entirely from donations.
So far, the Dinner for Levi fundraiser has raised $200,000. Recently, the Colonel Harland Sanders Foundation donated $250,000.
“I’m pretty excited to say we’re almost there with the funding,” said Jenine Kerrivan, senior manager of corporate development with the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“This shows that the Janeway Hospital as a class entity in child healthcare has been kept there over the last 20 years — and is being kept there — by the independent Janeway Children’s Foundation,” added Price.
Kerrivan said such improvements to the Janeway become a reality because of the many people who donate whatever small amounts of money they can.
“Those people that are out there giving $25 — it all adds up, and that’s how we get here.”