Campaign to support expanded Victoria Hospital nursery

Jenean Beskal's two sons were both born prematurely at the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. (Victoria Hospital Foundation/Supplied)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

The Victoria Hospital Foundation is launching this year’s Give a Little Life Day campaign with a $2.2 million goal to expand their neonatal unit.

“We’ve got a nursery here—a small, 375 square foot nursery if you can believe that. We have jammed in Prince Albert’s most precious, most vulnerable little babies, our sickest little ones,” said Chairperson Lyle Karasiuk.

Although the organization is currently accepting donations, their annual Radiothon is taking place December 7.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Victoria Hospital Foundation will be live broadcasting on 900 CKBI am, XFM and Power 99.

Ideally, they would reach their goal at the end of this year’s campaign to provide a 4,000 square foot space and updated equipment, explained CEO Sherry Buckler.

However, they’re prepared to wait two to three years before raising over $2 million.

“It’s cramped. They’re tripping over each other,” said Karasiuk. “These are our next mayors and premiers and doctors and lawyers.”

Currently, it has medical gases to support only four babies at a time.

Buckler knows how it feels to spend time there with a sick newborn.

Her son was born six weeks premature in the Victoria Hospital about seven years ago.

“Him and I stayed in this hospital for two weeks before we could go home and I have first-hand experience, you know, trying to bond with him and feed him and rock him in that crowded neonatal unit, which is so tiny. I had no privacy,” she said.

Mother shares story of prematurely born children

Jenean Beskal’s two sons were both born prematurely at the Victoria Hospital and are now healthy thanks to the staff in the neonatal unit.

Her eldest son, now three-years-old, was born at the 33-week mark of her pregnancy. He was intubated and stabilized before being transferred to Saskatoon in an ambulance.

After a couple weeks there, Beskal was told a rare spot opened up in Prince Albert and she was able to return home.

However, she struggled to take care of her child in such a confined space.

Jenean Beskal says both her sons are now in “perfect health.” (Victoria Hospital Foundation/Supplied)

“Imagine trying to pump milk for your baby, hold him for the first time or have a serious conversation with the doctors with a constant flow of bodies coming and going. I was always secretly concerned about how much the amount of noise, rushing around and 24/7 lights would affect my baby,” she said in a letter provided by the Victoria Hospital Foundation.

She said the babies were only about two feet apart.

Her second son, currently 9-months-old, was born about a month early and stayed in the nursery for four days.

But now, she said the babies were situated even closer than before at only six-inches away from each other.

“In a 400 square foot space, I counted 12 human bodies who were in that room. Almost all the equipment was being shared and battled over. The amazing nurses did the best they could to make everyone feel welcome and safe. But there was no longer denying that they needed help,” she said.

Beskal encourages the community to donate for Give a Little Life Day: “Lets give moms like myself and their newborns the best space and equipment that they deserve right here in Prince Albert.”

The Victoria Hospital Foundation is accepting donations online at www.helpthevic.ca.

This is the 13th year of the campaign–of the last 12, it’s raised $5 million for patients.

Thierman Financial