Give A Little Life Day raises $592,563 for Victoria Hospital NICU

15th annual radio-a-thon was hosted at Mann-Northway

A volunteer collects a donation from the drive through service bay at Mann-Northway on Friday (Kelly Skjerven/Daily Herald)

The Victoria Hospital Foundation (VHF) raised $592,563 at their 15th annual Give A Little Life Day.

The event was broadcast live on 99.1 FM, 101.5 FM and 900 AM from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mann-Northway dealership.

The radio-a-thon is supporting phase two of the NICU for the North campaign.

In 2018 the foundation raised money to expand the current nursery at Victoria Hospital. Construction is now underway and expected to be completed by next summer, VHF CEO Sherry Buckler said.

VHF wants to provide a space that is “culturally informed and inviting with a special focus for First Nation and Métis families.”

During the design phase the foundation consulted with patients, staff and a dedicated team of advisors that includes engagement with First Nations and Métis representatives.

The second phase of the campaign is seeking to raise an additional $2.5 million for brand new equipment and furnishings in the NICU.

This includes resuscitation equipment for newborns, infant ventilators, NICU monitors, and oxygen blenders for babies who need help breathing.

New furnishings include a rocking chair for every parent, and a pull out bed to allow parents to sleep next to their baby.

The current NICU is outfitted to care for four babies but there’s an average of eight babies in it per day, Buckler said.

“It’s very crowded and there’s no privacy and the equipment is end of life so that’s why we’re doing this. It’s been long overdue and we’re just really proud to say that our community and all of the generosity of surrounding families and businesses are helping us make this a reality for the north,” Buckler said.

Marianne Turcotte’s new baby daughter, Addie, was recently a patient in the NICU after she was born premature.

Turcotte was only 29 weeks along with Addie when her water broke. The issue is close to the family’s heart after they lost a baby girl eight weeks before her due date a few years ago.

Turcotte had Addie in Saskatoon and traveled back to Prince Albert where she spent 10 days in the NICU.

The mom of two knows all about the need to upgrade the NICU at Victoria Hospital.

She says the staff at the hospital are terrific and the care team is wonderful, however, she added that room is “very tiny.”

“Honestly sometimes you feel like your maybe intruding on other people’s private time because you’re sitting so close to other parents,” Turcotte said.

She added that privacy is important for families for obvious reasons like nursing babies. There are also times where parents might want to be alone with their new little family members. She added there’s medical reasons as well such as the benefits of a quiet environment for babies.

“You can certainly see that the equipment is very well-used, the little bassinets that babies are in, all that’s safe absolutely but certainly they’re tattered. The chairs have medical tape on them because the seats, the vinyl is cracked in them, so there’s certainly a need for updated equipment for them.”

Turcotte reached out to Buckler to see if the family could give back to the nursery by purchasing a new rocking chair. That’s when Buckler informed Turcotte about the Give a Little Life Day fundraiser and asked if they would consider being the family advocates for the campaign.

Baby Addie, pictured here with her big sister Charlee, spent 10 days in the Victoria Hospital NICU (Courtesy Janna Gobeil Photography)

The new NICU unit will have 11 bays each with a basinet for a baby and a bed for mothers.

Friday’s radio-a-thon had a fundraising goal of $500,000. Last year’s total of $303,105.27 was surpassed around 2 p.m.

Donors could drive through service bays at Mann-Northway to make contactless donations.

Dealer principal Mark Ripley said the dealership has never tried this before but agreed to host the event.

“It’s a good chance to do something good for the community but even bigger than that it’s for the kids,” Ripley said.

Mann-Northway donated $72,000 to kick the fundraiser off.

“I think people are appreciating the fact that it’s extremely convenient. They don’t have to park their car and come into the hospital they can just drive right through,” VHF CEO Sherry Buckler said.

The radio-a-thon has been hosted in the lobby of the hospital over the last 14 years but due to the pandemic that couldn’t happen this year.

Drive through donors were treated to a complimentary coffee at Tim Horton’s next door.

Near the end of the day, an anonymous donation of $100,000 came through to boost their total of $377,368.

The fundraising goal was met an hour before the radio-a-thon ended.

“It’s absolutely amazing that they would be past (their goal) and (we’re) just so proud to be a part of a community that feels so passionately about taking care of their little ones,” Turcotte said.

To learn more about the Turcotte family’s story and the NICU for the North campaign visit