Orano Canada donates $250,000 to Malhotra NICU for the North as facility welcomes patients

Submitted Photo (L to R) Cody Barnett of the VHF Glenn Lafleur and Tammy Van Lambalgen of Orano Canada and Andrea Dutchak of the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

Prince Albert residents have even more reason to celebrate the opening of the new Victoria Hospital Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after Orano Canada made a $250,000 donation to support it.

This announcement comes on the same day the Malhotra NICU for the North welcomes its first patients to the newly completed space. Cody Barnett, Executive Director of the Victoria Hospital Foundation, said the donation goes a long was to support families in the region.

“It was kind of two good news stories in one, with Orano announcing their gift to us and patients moving in,” Barnett said. “The timing was fortunate.”

Barnett said Orano Canada has plenty of employees in northern Saskatchewan, and viewed this donation as a way to support their families. He was grateful for their contribution, which helps boost a healthcare facility that will likely see plenty of use.

“Because we have grown capacity from four patient beds in NICU to 11, that means more families can stay here, receive the care that they need, (and) remain closer to their support networks,” Barnett said. “And with that, any kids who do have to travel for specialized care can actually return here sooner with that added capacity too.”

Barnett said the donation was really exciting for Prince Albert. More than 1,000 donors have contributed to the project, and Barnett wants to make sure they all feel appreciated.

“Unfortunately, the day we did the Grand Opening the Queen passed and it was right on the heels of James Smith as well,” Barnett said. “Anything we can do to thank the donors that’s the important part for us here.”

Orano Canada vice-president and chief corporate officer Tammy Van Lambalgen said they wanted to help serve the Prince Albert, and the NICU was the logical choice.

“The Victoria Hospital serves a large region of the province, and many of our employees travel to Prince Albert for services,” Lambalgen said in a media release. “We are proud to support this facility which will offer state-of-the-art healthcare for northern Saskatchewan’s newborns and their families.”

She added that it was heartwarming to hear from staff about how the upgraded space and equipment will improve the care patients receive.

“We are so happy to hear that the first patients are entering the NICU today (Tuesday),” she said. “It can be a very stressful time for any family, so we are glad that families from the north can remain closer to home while their babies receive the care they need.”

The new NICU’s increased capacity can accommodate up to 11 medically fragile newborns and allows families more privacy and space to bondwith their babies.

The previous space was a very cramped 357 square feet, while the new NICU is over 4,000 square feet and is designed with space for parent-baby bonding in mind. This added capacity significantly reduces the number of infants that will require care in Saskatoon and Regina, and will support an earlier return home for those families who may still require travel for specialized care.

The Malhotra NICU for the North was made possible by community donations from nearly 1,000 donors to the Victoria Hospital Foundation, totaling more than $4 million.