Stollery brings neonatal intensive care to Sturgeon

October 24, 2019

Colouring book

Mom Jamie McMillan, left, checks out the new Stollery Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert with her daughter Lexi, son Austin and husband Gordon.

New $2.3M unit means St. Albert families can receive newborn care closer to home

Story by Marni Kuhlmann | Photo by Sharman Hnatiuk

ST. ALBERT — A new Stollery Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Sturgeon Community Hospital will help keep families like the McMillans closer together, and closer to home.

When Jamie McMillan delivered her daughter Lexi at the Sturgeon in April 2014 by caesarian section, the newborn had to be transferred from the St. Albert facility to the Stollery NICU in Edmonton.

“A crew came in with my baby in an incubator ready for transport,” says McMillan. “I got to hold her very briefly with a room full of strangers, before she and I began to cry, and I sent them off. My husband Gordon was able to go with her, but I had to stay at the Sturgeon.”

McMillan needed time to recover from having a surgical delivery; it took four days before she was able to be full-time at Lexi’s bedside in the NICU.

The new Stollery NICU at the Sturgeon will help babies like Lexi receive the care they need right on site, rather than being transferred to one of the four Edmonton hospitals that have a NICU.

“No one plans for having a baby in the NICU,” adds McMillan. “It was very difficult for our family to be separated so early after her birth. Having a neonatal intensive care unit at the Sturgeon is incredible and I can imagine it would have made a world of difference for my baby and me.”

The Stollery NICU at the Sturgeon includes six patient beds: one four-bed room and two private rooms. Specialized care will be provided for babies born as young as 32-weeks’ gestation.

Bedsides are also equipped with fridges for breastmilk storage, breast pumps, massage recliners and televisions. NICView cameras will also allow parents to see live images of their infant when they’re not at their bedside. Both private rooms also come with a sofa-bed sleeper that can comfortably accommodate two people.

“Approximately 3,000 babies are delivered at the Sturgeon each year, and of that, an average of 120 require neonatal intensive care,” says Dr. Ernest Phillipos, neonatologist, Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“The expanded care means critically ill infants born at the Sturgeon Community Hospital can bond with their moms — and their families are closer to their support systems. This unit is an investment that will help give newborns the best start possible.”

The $2.3-million project was funded through the Alberta government’s Infrastructure Maintenance Program. The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation provided an additional $2 million to fund staff training and additional state-of-the-art equipment for the new NICU.

The unit will open on Monday, Oct. 28.