Parents, kids and health-care providers reunited Thursday (Aug. 11) at Jeneece Place near Victoria General Hospital for an annual gathering of those who have spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
This is the first year the event has been able to return in-person after being forced online due to COVID-19, and the 36th anniversary of the first time the event was held. Jeneece Place is a housing option for families who have travelled to Victoria for their kids who are undergoing treatment at the hospital. It has hosted more than 2,760 families since opening its doors on Jan. 21, 2012, according to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.
There was food, music, games for the children, and an in-demand ice cream truck.
Hundreds of families return annually for the event to reconnect with the nurses and health-care workers who looked after them during their stay, and the other families they met. Michelle Smith and her husband Jason had two stints in the house with both their children, Logan and Rosemary, being born prematurely.
“It was like a whole family while they were there,” said Michelle Smith. “They are such a big part of your life right away.”
The eldest Logan spent two weeks in the NICU while Rosemary spent two days.
“The nurses were amazing (at NICU),” Michelle Smith added. “They were informative too – being a first-time mom, there are things I didn’t even really think about.”
Shannon Cross, the clinical nurse leader at NICU at Victoria General Hospital, said the reunion is not only a welcome experience for the families but the staff also looks forward to seeing the parents and children return.
“It’s really an exciting time for staff to be able to see the kids and how they progressed and grew up. Every time we go through a bit of a process after they leave the unit, they’ve spent so much time with us. And then they come back and it’s just nice to be able to reconnect with someone who experienced that with them.”