Allison Hicks

New suite at hospital allows parents to stay with sick babies

A new suite in the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre means fathers as well as mothers can stay overnight, side by side with their sick babies.

A new suite in the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre means fathers as well as mothers can stay overnight, side by side with their sick babies.

The Red Deer Regional Health Foundation cut the ribbons on Wednesday, officially opening the three-bedroom Kinsmen Care by Parent Suite.

Complete with a small living area including a sink, fridge and microwave as well as TV, the suite allows for up to three families to stay in the unit while their infants are being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The space used to contain only two bedrooms which mothers would have to share, said Allison Hicks, assistant head nurse with the unit.

“Now we can let the dads stay back here, too, as well as the babies because we now have the monitor capabilities,” said Hicks.

“Our NICU is constantly full so it will help with overflow as well … We’re about family-centred care in our unit and this allows mom, dad and baby to all be together as they transition into going home.”

The suite cost approximately $140,000, which largely came out of the Kinsmen Club of Red Deer’s $340,000 donation in 2010 to the Love of Children Golf Classic, a fundraiser dedicated to enhancing local patient care.

Various walls throughout the suite brightly illustrate different Kinsmen projects around Red Deer such as arenas and parks.

There are also chairs that convert to beds, rocking chairs, a spacious washroom and new-grip flooring as well as access to medical gases in each room.

“Our slogan is Help the Kinsmen Help the Kids and what better way than with something like this?” said Ryan Philip, president of the Red Deer Kinsmen Club.

“To give back to the community and see something like this come together is amazing.”

The suite took about 10 months to construct and has been operational for a number of weeks now.

Located directly in the unit, the suite meets a need in the community, said John Donald, chair of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation’s board of directors.

“We have the Ronald McDonald House but when you’re travelling back and forth from home or from the Ronald McDonald House even, you’re not in the hospital … To keep the family together is priceless, especially in a situation when the baby has to stay in the hospital but also needs that parental support all the time. It’s great,” said Donald.

Rob Kellough, chair of the Love of Children Golf Classic committee, said the suite is another step in improving the hospital experience for young families.

“Coming to the hospital as a child can be a scary experience and we want to make it as comfortable as possible,” said Kellough.

“Suites like these make the stays for kids and parents less stressful.”

Kellough said before this suite, many parents would “probably sleep in chairs” beside their children or travel back and forth from home.

“There wasn’t really anything like this.”

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