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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

Helping keep babies close to home

When getting ready to welcome a new baby into their family, the last thing parents want to think about is intensive care. But many babies require additional support before they can go home – which is where the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit comes in. These specialized departments are equipped to support babies until they’re able to breathe and feed on their own. St. Joseph’s has been providing support as a Level 2B NICU and recently received a designation upgrade to Level 2C – which means we can care for sicker and smaller babies.

“We can now provide care to babies anywhere from 30 weeks gestation upwards, compared to our previous 32,” said Dr. Jessie van Dyk, division head of the NICU. “This means that babies born elsewhere can also be transferred back to us sooner so families can be closer to home.”

That’s one of the silver linings for Julie Pigozzo who had her baby, Reese, months earlier than expected. After receiving care for just over a month at Mount Sinai, Reese was transferred to the NICU at St. Joseph’s.

“I was so happy to be moved here because I’m just a five minute bike ride from my house,” Pigozzo said. “It’s been ideal for me and has helped keep stress down – I’m able to leave and get some work done and come back quickly.”

Last summer there was a shortage of beds in NICUs across the city, with the highest demand being on Level 3 units which provide care to the sickest babies. With more specialized units opening at other sites including St. Joseph’s, it means that support is spread across the city and everyone who needs care can receive it.

“Part of the determination of what our designation should be was the Toronto Central LHIN looking at what supports we can provide and what else is close to us in our community,” said van Dyk. “There’s a movement to help provide necessary care in the community – we have everything we need right here.”

Baby Reese is just working on her final few developments before being able to go home with her mom, who said she’s grateful for the care they’ve received.

“These nurses have a special skillset because not only are they attending to the baby, they’re attending to the parents as well,” Pigozzo said. “I’ve had a really nice experience here – it really comes down to the people – they’re clinically good and also compassionate. It feels like the nurses are on my team and as a parent, that’s really the best feeling.”

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