How Jeneece Place was a lighthouse in a storm for this Okanagan family

British Columbia family accessing health care

When Summerland residents Mark and Erin were expecting their first child in 2012, they never would have predicted that their son would be born across the province. However, when Erin’s water broke only 28 weeks into her pregnancy, doctors in Penticton informed her that the Victoria General Hospital was the closest hospital with an available room. The couple was airlifted to Vancouver Island that very night.

With only a few hastily packed belongings gathered by a neighbour, the expectant parents made the trip to Victoria. After a taxi took Mark to the wrong hotel and his wife was across town in the hospital, he was more than a little stressed.

”It was a whirlwind,” remembers Mark. “We didn’t know what was going on with Erin’s pregnancy and on top of that, we were far from home across the province. Thankfully, a social worker at the hospital told us about Jeneece Place.”

For Mark, being able to stay in a safe, warm, home away from home during a difficult time meant everything. It took only three minutes to walk to his wife at the hospital, where she stayed for a week and a half before baby Calum was born.

Arriving ten and a half weeks early, it was essential to Calum’s health that he be closely monitored in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). When Erin was discharged from the hospital and Mark had to return home to work a few days later, Erin’s mom was able to stay with her at Jeneece Place.

Having supportive staff and home-cooked meals at Jeneece Place helped lighten the load for Erin during a challenging time being away from her newborn preemie son. She even had the chance to get into the autumn seasonal spirit by carving a Halloween pumpkin. Two weeks later, Calum was given the green light to be transferred to a NICU in the Okanagan.

Now a perfectly healthy and thriving eight-year-old, Calum loves swimming, skiing, and teasing his little sister, Emily. Mark and Erin have never forgotten the generosity of the Island community and Jeneece Place while they were far away from home across the province.

“Jeneece Place was a lighthouse in a storm for us. Our family is now in a place that we can give back and it is important to pay it forward to other Jeneece Place families by donating to Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. We’ll never forget what they did for us during a time of need,” says Mark.

Your support makes a world of difference for BC families like Mark, Erin, and their little ones. By donating to the Kids First Fund, you can ensure that BC kids have access to the health care they need to thrive in their early childhood development.

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