Donation to NICU aids families of critically-ill newborns

Amy Novakovski and Tina Searcy (centre) of the BloomNICU Foundation, along with Tina’s daughter Charley Searcy, present a cheque in the amount of $71,000 to medical staff at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal University Hospital on Monday, August 12

A $71,000 donation to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Saskatoon will go toward the purchase of specialized equipment for critically-ill newborns and their families.

The bulk of the donation from the NICU Bloom Foundation will help purchase additional NICView cameras, allowing parents of newborns in the NICU to monitor their little loved ones around the clock, even when they’re not able to be physically at the child’s bedside.

Two years ago the NICU Bloom Foundation funded 20 NICView cameras for the facility, currently located on the third floor of Royal University Hospital (RUH).

But in a few short weeks, the NICU will relocate to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. A total of 48 NICView cameras will be needed in the new, larger facility.

The donation will also help fund the purchase of a specialized respiratory transport machine for critically-ill babies; as well as an ultrasound machine that can be used at the infant’s bedside in the NICU.

A separate donation of $5,000 from the NICU Bloom Foundation will go to hospitals in Meadow Lake, La Ronge and La Loche to purchase medical supplies for their pediatric wards.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to contribute to the NICU, and to help newborns have a fighting chance,” said NICU Bloom Foundation Co-Executive Director Amy Novakovski. “Over the past eight years the foundation has provided over $400,000; which is amazing considering it started as such a little grassroots thing. We’re just moms and dads who do this because we love the unit. They have saved so many little lives over the years.”

Novakovski and fellow NICU Bloom Foundation Co-Executive Director Tina Searcy had children who were patients in the NICU. The two women began raising funds on a small scale, and over the years the annual gala fundraiser organized by their charitable foundation has grown considerably.

“We had a vision that this would keep building, but we didn’t know what would happen year after year,” said Searcy. “This fall we’re supplementing our May gala event with a smaller fundraiser on September 15 with a fun prohibition-era ‘speakeasy’ theme.”

NICU Manager Adeline Riehl said the funds from the foundation have made a huge difference in the lives of families.

“This has helped us improve the experience for patients and their families,” said Riehl.

Dr. Laurentiu Givelichian said the NICU transition from the old facility to the new one will be a relatively quick, but very complex, operation.

“The moving process will take exactly one day,” said Givelichian. “Within a single day we are supposed to move the patients, so we will need multiple teams; one team in the old location, another team in the new facility, and the third team for the transition from the old to the new. It’s a very complex process involving multiple people and pieces of equipment. It needs to be very well thought out and planned for that particular day.”

Givelichian said with so many critically-ill newborns on life-support systems, transporting them even a short distance is a serious business.

“To move them safely requires a tremendous amount of planning and coordination,” he said.