Bloom donation funds keep families connected with sick newborns

Bloom Foundation directors Tina Searcy (third from right, standing, and Amy Novakovski (second from right), along with their kids Dutch Novakovski and Charley Searcy (both of whom spent time in the Royal University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) shortly after they were born), present a cheque in the amount of $56,100 to the staff of the NICU on Wednesday, June 28

A donation of $56,100 to the Royal University Hospital (RUH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will help keep parents connected with their newborns receiving treatment at the facility.
The donation from the Bloom Foundation will be used to purchase specialized web cameras for several incubators in the 38-bed unit for gravely-ill premature and newborn babies. Parents of the newborns will be able to access live-stream images from the cameras through a privacy-protected phone app. The ‘Nicview’ cameras are designed to allow parents to monitor their babies, even when they’re not physically present at the hospital.
The NICU has already purchased ten of the Nicview cameras using funds from previous Bloom donations. The ten wireless cameras are slated to be installed in late July, and operational sometime in August, according to NICU Manager Adele Riehl.
The funds donated this year will all be put toward additional cameras.
““The goal is to have a camera at every bed,” said Riehl in an interview outside the NICU following a cheque-presentation ceremony on Wednesday, June 28. “Then we won’t have to make any painful decisions about which family can have access to a camera and which ones can’t.”
Riehl said the specially-designed NICU web cameras are a “perfect fit” for the type of equipment the unit purchases with the Bloom Foundation donations.
“These donations mean so much to us,” said Riehl. “They go specifically toward helping families, and they really enhance the work we’re able to do here.”
In the past several years, Bloom funds were used to buy rocking chairs, breast pumps and other small amenities. Riehl said the web cams were suggested by a physician, who saw the technology in action at a facility in the United States.
“We had to jump through some hoops as far as privacy rules were concerned, and had to line up all the technology, but we were really happy to discover they would work for our facility,” said Riehl.
The NICU is currently limited to wireless connections for the cameras, but will be able to convert them to permanent connections once the unit moves to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2019.
Bloom directors Amy Novakovski and Tina Searcy, along with their children, Dutch Novakovski and Charley Searcy, presented the funds to the NICU staff. The kids sported t-shirts proclaiming them as “NICU Alumni”, and the two young mothers spearhead the annual Bloom fundraising effort as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to NICU for saving their children’s lives.
“This is the biggest donation so far,” said Tina Searcy. “Last year was the first time we broke the $50,000 mark. It seems to be going up every year, which is great.”
Amy Novakovski said the group is attracting more corporate donations, as well as larger crowds to its annual fundraising gala. The 2018 event is slated for May 5 at the Saskatoon Inn.
“Last year we had 308. We’re hoping for 400 to 500 people at the event next year,” said Novakovski.
Jana Len with the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation said the funds raised by the Bloom Foundation are very important to the NICU.
“The cameras are the first of their type in the province,” said Len. “A lot of families live quite a distance from the hospital, and it’s difficult for them to be there for the baby’s entire stay at the NICU. This will really help.”