Foundation Supports New Milk Depot at NRGH

By | News

Nursing mothers in the Nanaimo area have a new resource to help support babies in need, by donating their milk.  Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) has become an official Donor Milk Collection Depot for BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank, located at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre in Vancouver.

A Donor Milk Collection Depot provides a space for women to drop off their raw, frozen breast milk, which is transported to the Provincial Milk Bank. The milk is then pasteurized and distributed to Neonatal Intensive Care Units across the province.

The Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation is providing more than $13,000 in funding for the purchase of two medical freezers and a waterless milk warmer for the Breast Milk Depot at NRGH.

“We agreed to fund this project without hesitation as it is essential that all babies get the best start in life possible,” said Janice Perrino, CEO, Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation. “We are delighted we can contribute to the establishment of the Breast Milk Depot at NRGH due to the support of our generous donors.”

Prior to the new Milk Depot, an order for milk had to be done for each individual baby in the NICU at NRGH. Now they will be able to make a single order that will supply milk for multiple babies. Plus, with the new freezers, a supply can be on-hand at all times with re-orders made as needed when supply is low.

New programs such as this require the input and support of many partners. The Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation is delighted to be one of the partners along with NRGH, Island Health and BC Women’s Hospital Provincial Milk Bank.

“This new depot gives more women on Vancouver Island the opportunity to help fragile babies get the nutrients they need from breast milk,” says Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “Island Health is proud to provide this service at a second location.”

“Opening the NRGH Donor Milk Collection Depot is made possible through Unit leadership, support from the Hospital Foundation and interest from women in the community,” said Erin O’Sullivan, Island Health Perinatal Program Development Lead. “Promoting and protecting breastfeeding and breast milk as the optimal choice for infant nutrition is a key to supporting healthy moms and babes; especially, the tiniest babies.”

“We are so happy to have a place for Central Island women to drop off their milk once they are approved donors,” said Juanita Parsonage, Nurse Clinician, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. “This will give more women the opportunity to donate, making it easier for them and, in turn, the most fragile babies in the province will be able to access donor milk.”

BC Women’s Hospital launched the Provincial Milk Bank in 1974.  Since then it has processed more than 2-million ounces of milk, helping tens of thousands of babies across the province.

“BC Women’s rely on partnerships such as Island Health to provide donor milk to the sickest babies across BC,” says Frances Jones, BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank coordinator. “We’re so pleased with the opening of the new depot, which will allow Nanaimo area moms to donate and further increases access to families in need.”

Donors must complete the Provincial Milk Bank’s pre-screening process before they can donate their milk at the Nanaimo Milk Depot at NRGH.  Screening consists of a brief telephone interview to confirm potential donors are in good health, not taking select medications and/or supplements, and willing to undergo blood testing.

The BC Women’s Hospital Provincial Milk Bank is looking for donors.  Women interested in becoming an approved breast milk donor can contact: 604-875-3743 or visit

Top Photo: Kristina Maguire, Iris Halbach, Juantia Parsonage, Trina Knight, Frances Jones, Emily Vanwaes

Bottom Photo: One of the Milk Depot Freezers


By | News

We are delighted to announce that as of May 1, Janice Krall will be joining the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation team as the Director, Major Gifts and Donor Relations.

Janice is a people first leader known for building relationships.  She has a combined 20 plus years’ progressive leadership experience in corporate, a national non-profit, higher education and community volunteering. She holds a certificate in Community Leadership though VIU and has served on several boards and community tables throughout her diverse career.

Janice comes to the Hospital Foundation from Vancouver Island University where she worked in the Advancement & Alumni Relations office. Previous to this she was the Area Manager with the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada where she successfully led all business development & operations for Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands & Powell River. In addition, her work with volunteers and donors has earned local, provincial and national recognition.

Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Janice is passionate about giving back to her community. She is Past President and mentor within her service club Zonta, which supports and empowers women, children and families. Janice is also an animal lover and supporter of the SPCA.

Janice is excited to contribute to the strengthening of the health and well being of individuals and families in our community.

New Washer & Dryer for the NICU

By | News

Thank you to all our donors who made the purchase and installation of a washer and dryer in the NICU possible. Before the installation, baby clothes had to be taken to another department to be washed. Baby clothes are very delicate so the new W/D will help keep them in better condition and valuable time will be saved by being able to do the laundry right in the department.

Jesse’s Gift Foundation donated $7,330 which was raised through a raffle of WestJet tickets to purchase the appliances and other project costs were covered by the generosity of many other donors. Thank you to the NRGH Facilities Maintenance & Operations staff for installing the washer and dryer!

Photo above: Janice Perrino, CEO Hospital Foundation, Sheri Shanahan, Jesse’s Gift founder & RN, Trina Knight, Manager, CYF at NRGH, Spencer Rispin and Jay Ubilas, FMO at NRGH; Greg Scott, Chair and Moira Jenkins, Vice Chair, Hospital Foundation Board

Photo below: RN Laura Miskulin and Sheri putting the first load into the new washer and dryer

Patient Comfort at Dufferin Place

By | News

In addition to medical equipment, the Hospital Foundation funds a wide array of patient comfort items. For example, couches help provide an inviting and comfortable environment for both patients residing at Dufferin Place in Nanaimo and their loved ones who visit them. Photo: Sandra and Jack Slocum

New Mannequin for O.R. Department

By | Medical Equipment, News

After serving NRGH well since 1985, the time has come to replace “Annie” – the CPR training mannequin used to train the life-saving technique. The new mannequin, yet to be named, was funded by the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation.

The O.R. Department team members are excited about the new mannequin’s features which will provide more advanced training options. Some of the many benefits are:

  • Proper airway anatomy such as vocal chords, esophagus and epiglottis for more realistic simulations
  • Unlike “Annie”, it isn’t limited to just CPR training. The new mannequin can be used to practice a number of airway management techniques
  • It can be used for inter-professional simulations. Cardiac arrest, intubations and other emergency situations can be practiced individually or as a group including surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses
  • It can be used to demonstrate and practice the use of new equipment

In addition to the Hospital Foundation, the O.R. department would like to give thanks to Life Safe Medical Training who helped acquire the mannequin.

Photo Below: “Annie”

New Bladder Scanner for Eagle Park

By | Medical Equipment, News

Thanks to support from Newman’s Own Foundation, staff at Eagle Park Health Care Facility have a brand new bladder scanner! In the past, they did not have access to this diagnostic tool at Eagle Park, a 75 bed long term care facility in Qualicum Beach. With the new scanner, staff will be better able to care for their elderly residents and potentially prevent transfers to the Emergency Room or urgent care facilities.

About Bladder Scanners

A bladder scanner is a noninvasive, portable ultrasound device that provides a virtual 3D image of the bladder and the volume of retained urine. Bladder scans are commonly utilized in acute care, long-term care, and rehabilitation environments, as well as in physicians’ offices.

Without the use of a bladder scanner, urinary retention is assessed by performing an invasive “in and out” urinary catheterization. This procedure can be uncomfortable and increase a patient’s risk of infection. Bladder scanners are the safest option for patients.

Photo: Cindy Illerbrun, Carol Allen and Betty Piotrowska

Cardiac Equipment Arrives at NRGH

By | Medical Equipment, News

Due to the support of generous donors, including a $1 million donation, the $1.8 million cardiac campaign goal has been reached months in advance! As a result, the Hospital Foundation immediately funded $500,000 of medical equipment which just arrived at NRGH.

Dr. Nataranjan, one of the cardiologists at NRGH, is pictured with one of the new echocardiography ultrasound units. At a cost of $138,000 each, these incredible machines have the most advanced software and imaging capabilities available. These units are true workhorses that can do all the different tests cardiac patients may need.

With cardiac ultrasound exams alone expected to exceed 10,000 in 2019, and all cardiac exams totaling over 40,000, these units are a much needed addition to the hospital.

New Elevator Wraps at NRGH

By | News

The Foundation’s four elevator wraps recently installed at NRGH look amazing! The wraps celebrate the dedicated NRGH staff and volunteers and the incredible care they provide on a daily basis. They also highlight the vital medical equipment that donors help fund. Together we are helping deliver excellence in healthcare in our community. Thank you!

Foundation Supports Continuing Education for NRGH Staff

By | News

Palliative Care requires a special skill set including compassion, empathy and the ability to keep things in perspective when you are providing care for individuals and families facing an advancing illness. Cheryl Cochrane, an LPN for 13 years, has been working in Palliative Care at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Community Care for the past 7 years. When speaking with her, it is clear she has chosen the right path. The care and genuine concern for her patients comes through in her thoughtful responses to questions and the warmth she exudes.

In addition to the medical skills and natural ability to deliver such sensitive care, there is a whole other skill required. Cheryl describes this skill as the combination of both the psychological and social care of those facing end of life which can be challenging to integrate into daily care. Fortunately, Victoria Hospice offers “Psychosocial Care of the Dying and Bereaved”, a highly regarded, 5-day course for practitioners across Canada including LPNs’ RNs, physicians, social workers, occupational therapists, pharmacists and others who wish to expand their patient care toolkit.

Cheryl first took this course 10 years ago when working in a care home with Northern Health but decided it was time for a refresher. She found it easier to integrate the learnings the second time around due to a combination of more work experience under her belt and greater confidence in her own skills and knowledge.

The course covered many areas including how to treat people individually and recognize that their patient’s end of life journey may differ from what the care provider feels is more appropriate. As Cheryl simply stated, “What I envision as a good death may not be what my patient wants and we need to respect and acknowledge that. Our past experiences influence our journey through life and we need to treat our patients with compassion and provide them with the support they require to pass with dignity and on their own terms.”

The course also addresses some topics which can be uncomfortable for the care providers, patients and their families such as sexuality and intimacy. When someone is in Palliative Care for end of life care or short term symptom management, it is too often assumed that the priority needs of those individuals are purely medical and perhaps, for some, spiritual. The course provides carers with the knowledge to have these conversations with their patients and also with their families who may be unaware that they have these needs. Cheryl indicated that they key to addressing any sensitive issue is to be “open, provide a lot of information and listen”.

Cheryl is looking forward to sharing all the new learnings she has garnered from the course with her colleagues and is applying them to her daily practice at NRGH and in the community. Without the Hospital Foundation covering the course fee, she said she would not have been able to afford to take this impactful course in Victoria. The Foundation is proud to support professional education for medical staff so that they can continue to do their best work and provide exceptional care for patients.

Photo: Cheryl is pictured in front of the Palliative Care department’s memorial nook which is lit when a patient has passed.

O.R. Nurses Trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support

By | News

The operating room is a critical care area. On rare occasions very sick patients require advanced cardiac life support while in the O.R at NRGH. At minimum, the O.R. is staffed with 1 anaesthesiologist, 1 surgeon and 2 O.R. nurses. When a cardiac arrest occurs, the anaesthesiologist, who is trained in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), calls a “Code Blue”. While waiting for the hospital’s Code Blue team to arrive the O.R. nurses support the anaesthesiologist with lifesaving measures. It is therefore part of the an O.R. nurse’s annual competencies to have Basic Cardiac Life Support.

The O.R. nurses felt it would be extremely beneficial in a “Code Blue” situation if they too were trained in ACLS in order to better support the anaesthesiologist. Due to the cost of ACLS training, the Hospital Foundation was approached for funding support. On November 18, six RN’s did the ACLS training and to date, the Hospital Foundation has provided funding for 28! The training has provided a tremendous boost to the O.R. staff’s ability to work as a team during these critical events and resulted in improved quality of support for the patients. Thank you to Life Safe Medical Training for providing a discount on the course fees and to our donors for making this support possible