Even though Ed Lauzon is now retired, the long-time IT professional and manager at the Ontario Ministry of Health still has a strong interest in ensuring high-quality care. He knows as much as anyone that some of the “extras” that can make such a difference in patients’ and families’ lives just aren’t in the budget. So Ed asked his niece Michelle Lauzon, a nurse in the NICU at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, if there were any improvements she and her co-workers could make with a donation.
“I said ‘Yes!’ right away,” Michelle said. “I was very excited about it.”
Jennifer Somera, NICU & Maternity Centre Manager, was amazed and grateful for the generous gift.
“I can share that my team gives me a great wishlist,” Jennifer said. “Unfortunately, we don’t always have the funds to purchase everything on that list. So to get this surprise gift – we were able to get many of the things from that list to help us provide higher level of care in our NICU.”
“This is a great example of an individual in the community wanting to make a difference in the quality of care for our NICU patients and families,” Jennifer said.
Ed’s only stipulation for the donation: that the NICU nurses decide how to spend the money.
“It was important to my uncle that the nurses choose the items. He always says that the people on the frontlines are the ones who know what’s needed,” Michelle said.
All the NICU nurses helped choose the items on the list – though with over 30 nurses on staff, deciding on the final list was difficult, Michelle said.
One of the “extras” the NICU nurses purchased with the donation was a Polaroid Instant Camera. That might sound strange in this digital age, but it’s exactly because we are digital that a Polaroid picture means so much to families.
“We take pictures with our phone, but we don’t always print them anymore,” Michelle said. Besides, not everyone has a phone to take pictures with. “The Polaroid is a concrete keepsake that parents can take with them and add to their baby book.”
She said that in the three weeks since getting the camera, they’ve mostly taken pictures on discharge day. But the NICU nurses are also talking about using it in other ways, such as taking a picture every week to show a pre-term infant’s growth.
“It’s hard to see your baby in the NICU,” Michelle said. The camera provides another way for the nurses to support families, which is important too. “We want to try to give them a happy memory during one of the most difficult time in their lives. That’s a big thing for me for sure.”
Other items purchased included a memory board, nine bottle warmers – almost one for each of the 14 NICU beds – and several different kinds of positioners with washable covers to help keep baby comfortable.
“You can put them on their stomachs safely, under their legs, and so on,” Michelle said. “You can also make boundaries around babies so they feel safer, kind of like they were still inside Mum. That’s important with premature babies especially because they shouldn’t be out yet.”
Her uncle is very happy with what the nurses decided, Michelle said.
“He was especially happy with the milestone board and the camera,” she said. “He’s a photographer, so I knew he’d appreciate that.”
“We’ve only had these items for a few weeks, but it’s made a huge difference in the way we can provide care.”