Your Health

What if the greatest miracle turned out to be toughest moment of your life?

St. Michael’s has launched a $10-million fundraising campaign to build a neonatal intensive care and maternity unit that cares for moms and babies on the same floor—the only large hospital in Canada to do so.

We’ve seen it again, and again. The overwhelming, indescribable love when parents hold their babies for the first time. And the shattering fear in their eyes when something goes wrong.

Every year, St. Michael’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) cares for some of the most fragile babies and their moms. Many of the babies are born right here at our hospital. Some are transferred to us from health-care centres across Ontario.

That’s because we are home to globally renowned experts in highly specialized fields of pregnancy. Some moms in our care have a range of medical conditions. They might be critically injured from an accident. They might suffer from hypertension , diabetes, cystic fibrosis, bleeding disorders, multiple sclerosis, cancer, kidney disease or cardiovascular challenges. Some of our patients have HIV or are experiencing substance abuse withdrawal. And other moms come in for a normal delivery. While our care is extraordinary, we need more space and better facilities to match it. That’s why we are building a state-of-the-art NICU, a maternity space with obstetrics and gynecology, and a recovery unit – all on a single floor.

The design is based on the world’s gold standard known as Family Integrated Care (FiCare). In the FiCare model, families stick close to vulnerable newborns. That includes private double rooms in which parents and baby can sleep and relax. It means parents working alongside nurses, fully involved in their baby’s care, from changing diapers to participating in daily rounds. It means shared spaces throughout the floor – each for different stages in a baby’s journey to wellness.

In the majority of other hospitals, moms and babies who need care go to separate floors. But the science tells us that fragile babies who stay close to mom in their first days and weeks show better language and cognitive development compared to those who remain in traditional open-concept NICUs. It tells us that FiCare babies have lower infection rates, breastfeed more easily, gain weight faster and go home sooner.

As Dr. Doug Campbell, director of St. Michael’s NICU, says, “We’re not just creating a nice space. We are fundamentally changing the way babies are cared for. This is about providing the right care, in the right space, at the right time.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Our NICU cares for 600 fragile infants each year who are either born at the hospital or transferred for specialized care from centres across the province.
  • We are one of the few hospitals to use FiCare (family-integrated care), the gold standard in NICU care, which has families and nurses caring for newborns together.
  • St. Michael’s trains the majority of University of Toronto obstetrics, pediatrics and family medicine residents – including those from SickKids.
  • We treat the toughest cases – pregnant moms with cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, MS, trauma, addictions and HIV – ones that other hospitals can’t take on.
  • Roughly 25% of St. Michael’s pregnant patients struggle with homelessness, addiction and/or mental health issues.

And when we wrap up our campaign for NICU and maternal care, St. Michael’s will be Canada’s only large teaching hospital providing care for moms and babies on a single floor – because keeping them together during a crucial time isn’t just a nice to have; it’s a fundamental part of care that science has shown improves the odds of a better and faster recovery.

Click here to learn about our campaign to build a new, state-of-the-art NICU and Maternal Care Unit. Or make a donation here.

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