COVID-19 restrictions mean having a newborn baby in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is even tougher than usual for parents.
But some dedicated Calgary volunteers are now bringing those families some much-needed support.
It comes in the form of a new Comfort Cart, which volunteers now regularly bring to families at the NICU at the Foothills Medical Centre in northwest Calgary.
The Comfort Cart provides free snacks and drinks, along with other complementary items like toiletries, slippers and games, to parents of the tiny patients at the Foothills NICU.
Those parents often struggle to find time to obtain those kinds of items.
“Just trying to get out of the hospital or even just out of the NICU to grab something is a real pain,” said Dustin Mackintosh, the father of twin girls in the Foothills NICU.
“You’re usually so busy — either bedside or talking to doctors.”
The volunteers who operate the Comfort Cart are glad to have the chance to help lighten the load in that kind of situation.
“It’s a really great way to provide some items for parents who might be in a really difficult place,” volunteer Doyin Abatan said. “I just want to be able to help.”
The Comfort Cart project was organized by the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Calgary, which provides accommodation for out-of-town families needing treatment in the city.
“About 30 per cent of our families at the Ronald McDonald House in Calgary are here for neonatal intensive care,” the RMH’s Julie List said.
“It was a way to bring the comforts of the Ronald McDonald House into the hospital to families are who are bedside with their littles one.
“Because of COVID, many of the families are probably feeling a little more isolated.”
COVID-19 restrictions mean there are limits on visitors to hospitals.
“Right now it’s just me and (Dustin) allowed in, so none of our family have met the twins,” said Shaylene Doucette, mother of twin girls in the Foothills NICU. “That part has been very hard, very hard, on the family.”
Parents of newborn babies at the Foothills NICU say they’re grateful to have the support of the Comfort Cart.
“The volunteers, they’re awesome, very pleasant,” Mackintosh said. “That’s nice when there aren’t that many happy moments in a day.”