For a tiny newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – and their concerned parents at their bedside – each needle poke and prod can feel magnified. Thanks to a generous $22,000 donation from the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation, three new specialized vein viewers will help reduce invasive procedures and improve comfort and care for babies in the Misericordia Community Hospital NICU.
The new vein viewers are handheld or mounted devices that use near-infrared light reflection to provide a better view of vasculature – the network of blood vessels that connects the heart with all other organs and tissues in the body. This information is displayed on a small screen or projected back onto the baby’s skin.
With a better view of infants’ veins, clinicians can reduce the number of attempts it takes to insert an IV, meaning less pain and stress for critically ill newborns receiving care.
“Through this incredible gift, the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation is helping transform care for Covenant’s youngest patients,” says Mickey Melnyk, a major gifts officer at Covenant Foundation. “This will go a long way towards improving outcomes for Covenant’s smallest patients in the Misericordia NICU, while also giving parents reassurance that their littlest ones are being cared for by clinicians who have the specialized tools they need to provide the best care possible.”
The upgraded vein viewers will help Covenant’s most fragile patients in the NICU thrive, an outcome that aligns with the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation’s mission to treasure cardiac children and support their journey through research, education and stroke prevention. Created to honour the memory of Evan Ty Jenkins who lived a short but fulfilling life before passing away on July 22, 2006 due to complex congenital heart disease, the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation is dedicated to supporting enhanced treatment for patients like Evan.
“Our goal is to support children living with heart disease,” says Charlene Jenkins, president of the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation. “We believe this partnership with Covenant Foundation and Covenant Health’s Misericordia Community Hospital will help young lives in critical need.”
Because of their size, NICU babies’ veins can be incredibly difficult to see – even for Covenant’s most highly qualified clinicians. This can increase the number of tries it takes to insert an IV.
“Since infants are unable to verbalize pain and discomfort, NICU professionals are always looking for ways to minimize painful procedures,” says Tracy Miskiw, clinical nurse educator at the Misericordia NICU.
Tracy Miskiw stands next to an incubator and other life-saving equipment used to support newborns in the Misericordia NICU.
In the NICU, every encounter must be approached with the utmost care when tending to such a high-risk and vulnerable population. When a baby arrives prematurely or critically ill, families are desperate to have the best care possible. The upgraded vein viewers help families more easily and confidently navigate this phase of their journey with reassurance their baby is being cared for with specialized technology to significantly improve outcomes.
“For families, witnessing their infant having a peripheral IV inserted is stressful and traumatic,” says Sara Lemke, unit manager at the Misericordia NICU. “The vein viewers will allow staff to visualize babies’ veins to improve landmarking and vein selection, resulting in fewer attempts to successfully insert an IV, which in turn results in less pain and stress for babies and their families.”
The impact of this gift from the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation is far-reaching.
One in five babies in Alberta are born in a Covenant hospital. Of those, the Misericordia NICU cares for approximately 550 babies each year who need additional care and support in their first hours to weeks of life.
The Misericordia NICU team is grateful to the partnership between Covenant Foundation and the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation for this specialized equipment that will help their frontline team provide the best care possible for those hundreds of babies and the families who rely on them.
“Every patient deserves to be cared for with the highest quality of care, as well as the best technology,” says Tracy. “This equipment will allow that to happen by reducing the number of painful stimuli we expose our patients to. Thank you so much!”
Written by: Tara Joyce
If you’d like to help us continue providing specialized equipment such as vein viewers that help NICU babies thrive, please visit our donation page.
To learn more about the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation and its mission, visit their website.
Evan Ty Jenkins, the vivacious boy the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation was created in honour of, strikes a pose.