Meet Island kid Talia: How this Comox Valley family receives critical support from Jeneece Place and Bear Essentials

Talia is described by her mom, Kelsey, as a happy and kind-hearted girl who loves My Little Pony and the Disney movie Moana. Talia turns ten this month and since her birth, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island has been there to provide critical support.

Kelsey was preparing for a quiet New Year’s Eve celebration at home on the last day of 2012 when she suddenly went into early labour. She rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where the medical staff immediately arranged for her airlift to Victoria General Hospital, more than 200 kilometers away.

Born ten weeks prematurely by emergency C-section, Talia’s survival was touch and go for the first few days. Meanwhile, Kelsey also needed medical care and was in hospital for the first 11 days of Talia’s life. While still in hospital herself, Kelsey received her baby’s diagnosis: Talia had cerebral palsy and would not be able to leave the hospital for quite a while.

A home away from home

Fortunately, the doors to Jeneece Place had opened in 2012. While Kelsey and Talia were in hospital, Talia’s father and Kelsey’s mother settled in the home away from home, just steps away from Kelsey and Talia. Once Kelsey was discharged, she joined the others at Jeneece Place until Talia was a month old and was transferred to Nanaimo General Hospital. Although closer to her home in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo was too far for Kelsey to commute to and from her baby’s bedside. Without family or a facility like Jeneece Place close by, Kelsey needed to stay in a motel, all the while worrying about her child and pining for the comforts and support of her home.

But “home” wasn’t in her immediate future. When Talia was two months old, she needed to return to Victoria General Hospital. Once again, Kelsey was warmly welcomed at Jeneece Place. It was a relief to be somewhere familiar, safe, and comfortable. Kelsey describes the home away from home as “a place where care and kindness are always available.” She was finally able to take Talia home to the Comox Valley on Good Friday, 2013, when Talia was three months old.

A familiar friend

Kelsey and her daughter have returned to Jeneece Place countless times over the past ten years. Asked about her favourite aspect of Jeneece Place, Kelsey immediately says, “Jeneece Place House Manager, Christina, an amazing human being, and all of the staff who are always available with kindness to listen and care.” Talia’s health challenges are lifelong, and her mobility challenges are complex. When Kelsey needed assistance with special equipment for Talia, she was referred to the Bear Essentials program by their school district physiotherapist.

Two years ago, Talia, who uses a wheelchair, had double hip and double knee surgery and, with assistance from Bear Essentials, the family was able to obtain a specialized shower chair. While they were able to access 90% of the funds for the equipment through other programs, the remaining 10% was cost-prohibitive for Kelsey, and without Bear Essentials the shower chair would have been out of reach.

Continued support

Kelsey is relieved that Bear Essentials is there for her and Talia, now and in the future. She recently applied to the fund for assistance getting a new wheelchair with adjustable handles. She’s thrilled to learn that the new chair will arrive soon, making it easier for everyone in the family to take Talia on her much-loved walks.

Children’s Health Foundation has been there to support Kelsey and Talia for the past decade, and we will continue to support their family and families like theirs, with your help.

Will you make a gift and help us hold Island families close? A small monthly donation will help us give Island kids like Talia the support they need to live their best lives.


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