Edwards Family NICU to be built at the Alberta Children's Hospital

CALGARY, June 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The Alberta Children's Hospital will soon be home to a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, thanks to a $5-million gift from local philanthropists, Heather and N. Murray Edwards. The Edwards Family NICU will be built on the fourth floor of the Alberta Children's Hospital, in an area which had been designated for future expansion. Once construction is complete in about 18-24 months, it will operate as a "Level 3" NICU with 11-14 beds, caring for some of the most critically-ill newborn babies in southern Alberta.

"It is such a privilege to be able to help families and their newborn babies in this way," says Heather Edwards. "This is very personal for us, stemming from our own experience with our son who needed neonatal intensive care when he was born eight weeks early, five years ago. We truly hope our gift will greatly enhance NICU care and also create an environment that is better for staff and less stressful for families."

"This is another wonderful example of how working in partnership helps create a stronger healthcare system," says Ken Hughes, Chair of the Alberta Health Services Board of Directors. "The Edwards family had a keen interest in supporting NICU at the same time that AHS was strategizing about how best to improve services. We worked together to come up with a solution that will help thousands of families in the years to come."

In addition to supporting construction of the new NICU, the Edwards donation will also fund specialized NICU equipment for Foothills Medical Centre and Rockyview General Hospital.

"The Edwards family has supported healthcare in our city for more than 15 years," says Sally Flintoft, CEO of the Calgary Health Trust. "We feel very fortunate to have leaders in our community who are as visionary in philanthropy as they are in business."

"Heather and Murray, along with many of Murray's companies, played a big role in helping to build our new hospital," says Saifa Koonar, President and CEO of the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation. "Today, five years later, they're making our great hospital even better - and creating yet another legacy to help children and families in need. We are so grateful."

Over and above the enhancements being made possible thanks to the donation from the Edwards family, today Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Chris Eagle also announced details about two more improvements in neonatal intensive care services for southern Alberta.

Currently, NICU services exist in Calgary at Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC), Rockyview General Hospital (RGH) and Foothills Medical Centre (FMC). The PLC has 27 "Level 2" beds, RGH has 33 "Level 2" beds, and FMC has a total of 39 NICU beds - 14 of which are "Level 2" and 25 of which are "Level 3", caring for those premature babies who are most critically-ill.

Plans are underway for the PLC to add three more "Level 2" NICU beds to its Special Care Nursery. Those beds are expected to open in July 2011. As well, eight temporary NICU "Level 3" beds will begin operating at the Alberta Children's Hospital until the new permanent unit is finished.

"These new beds will help address the increasing demand for neonatal intensive care beds in Calgary and southern Alberta," says Dr. Eagle. "Having a NICU at the Children's Hospital will also help reduce the need to travel between sites for newborns requiring surgeries and newborns with complex conditions."

The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation raises funds for excellence in child health, research and family centred care. Those funds are used to support innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment and advancements in pediatric research.

The Calgary Health Trust connects donor passions with healthcare needs. Together we are touching lives in our community every day by raising funds for enhanced technology, programs and services at the Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital, Women's Health, Carewest continuing care centres and other community health programs and facilities. For information on the Calgary Health Trust, please go to www.calgaryhealthtrust.ca.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

Broadcast-quality NICU b-roll can be found at this link in a file called "B-ROLL-NICU-MPG.mpg".
user name: media
password: share

SOURCE Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

For further information:

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation         Alberta Health Services
Belinda Lamb         James Finstad
Office: 403.955.8821 | Cell: 403.803.3340         Office: 403.943.1296 | Cell: 403.650.7446
Email: blamb@achf.com         Email: james.finstad@albertahealthservices.ca

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