NICU needs upgrade to a vital piece of equipment

By Tanya Cronin
May 4, 2016 - 4:50pm Updated: May 4, 2016 - 8:08pm

KAMLOOPS — Giving birth to a premature baby, or finding out your baby is critically ill can be a frightening experience for any parent. 

But thanks to the dedicated staff at Royal Inland Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a time of profound worry can be made much easier. 

The NICU provides care, treatment and comfort for the youngest patients in the hospital. But an important piece of equipment, that doctors and nurses rely on to provide respiratory care to the babies who need it most, is outdated, and in need of an upgrade. 

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This year, money raised through McHappy Day is helping to purchase a new and improved Mechanical Ventilator.

Often it's the littlest fingers, that need the biggest hand. 

Born at 33 weeks, baby Kaycee is 4 days old, weighing no more than just 2 pounds. It may not seem like a lot, but in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, even the smallest weight gains, milestones and miracles, are celebrated.

"Babies who are born prematurely which we often see here in the nursery and some term infants, do need help," says Deanna Wyle, NICU Nurse at Royal Inland Hospital.

The first few hours, days and weeks of a premature or sick baby's life are critical. Nurses, doctors, and vital pieces of equipment in the NICU, all helping to save tiny lives. Equipment like a Mechanical Ventilator, which provides an airway, and essentially breathes for the baby. 

"Very important, babies born less than 34 weeks are at risk, mind you any baby is at risk for needing it, but premature babies are at a higher risk and it helps them along."      

Right now, the Nursery has 3 Mechanical Ventilators, but they are several years old, outdated, and in need of an upgrade. That's where McHappy day comes in, money raised this year will go towards purchasing brand new technology. 

"They're around $75,000 dollars each, so it's a huge goal but we know with McHappy Day support and community support, we'll be able to do that," says Alisa Coquet, Director of Donor Relations for Royal Inland Hospital Foundation.

Mechanical Ventilators supply life-saving support to infants with respiratory failure. With 1,300 or more deliveries every year in Kamloops, many babies are born preterm and end up here, in the NICU, a life-sustaining environment for the tiniest patients in the hospital.
"Without that money going towards our NICU, some of those babies could potentially be transferred to a bigger centre like Vancouver, and we don't want that to happen, we want the best care possible right here in Kamloops, so babies can stay here with their families," says Coquet.

In the past, McHappy day has helped purchase state-of-the-art Omni Beds, a design that easily transforms from an open bed warmer to a closed incubator.    

For baby Kaycee, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at RIH is home, at least for now. But thanks to the high-level of care and treatment she's receiving here, this little life is getting a fighting chance.

"Life-saving equipment that we definitely need, it's essential we do have them on hand if needed, but McHappy Day helps raise funds for new equipment," says Wyle.

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