Donation helps premature babies and their families
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am
A generous St. Albert family has had their legacy extended even further by the St. Albert Community Foundation.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation is the beneficiary of Scott and Lena Thatcher’s fund that is currently held by the St. Albert Community Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the social fabric of this city and region.
Board chair Kent Davidson said the fund was earmarked for newborn aid, and the Royal Alex had the perfect program.
“Some time ago, Scott and Lena Thatcher provided a significant gift to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to assist in the funding of the creation of a family suite at the hospital so that families of premature infants born at the hospital could have some accommodations near their loved ones during that challenging time,” stated Davidson in an email to the Gazette.
“This was a cause that was very dear to Scott and Lena and they were very pleased to be able to help in this way. The Thatcher suite is still in use at the hospital,” stated Davidson.
“The Royal Alex has a tremendous reputation for the care of prenatal infants and their mothers. That hospital serves a large geographical area in this regard, including St. Albert.
“The St. Albert Community Foundation currently holds an endowment fund originally funded by the Thatchers called The Thatcher NeoNatal Intensive Care Fund. A portion of the income from this fund is made available every year for causes related to neonatal care.
“This year, the board decided that the funds should be made available to the Royal Alex, which made application for funding for breast pumps. The application was very persuasive and it was clear that helping in this way would advance the care of neonates in the Edmonton and surrounding area,” he added.
According to a press release from the Royal Alex, this $4,700 gift from the foundation enabled the NICU to acquire two new breast pumps and related software and materials to enable mothers of premature babies to initiate and maintain breast milk production.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Program supports infants who require special medical or surgical attention, including premature newborns with low birth weights. To support its high-risk obstetrics program, the Royal Alexandra Hospital operates the largest NICU in Western Canada, with 66 beds.
In the first few days after birth, the maternal breast milk supply is limited. During this time, mothers and their preterm babies do not have breast-feeding experience, and these programmable pumps will assist in replicating the normal patterns that further stable production.
Alice French, a registered nurse and certified lactation consultant at the NICU, added, “Mother’s own milk is critical in protecting premature infants from infections and can often save lives. Moms need to pump eight times in 24 hours to be able to produce enough milk for their fragile infants.
“Some infants can stay as long as three to four months in the NICU, so access to a steady supply of mother’s milk is a concern. Moms make more milk when they pump at the infant’s bedside. With the addition of these two new pumps the NICU will now have a total of 21 breast pumps. Some of the pumps are more than seven years old and replacement and periodic maintenance are always a factor that the care team looks out for,” added French.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital NICU accepts referrals from communities across Alberta, including St. Albert, and Northern British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each year approximately 1,200 newborns are admitted, with 400 of these newborns from outside the region. Infants are transferred by ground or air by a specialized neonatal transport team of highly trained nurses and respiratory therapists.
More information about the St. Albert Community Foundation is available online at www.sacf.ca.