Every day, my colleagues and I benefit from your generosity. Your donations give us access to the latest medical advances, which are so essential in ensuring the best possible future for the babies we look after.

One out of every 10 babies is born prematurely.

That means 900 preemies come into the world every year at Sainte-Justine. And 90 of them are considered extremely preterm.

Behind the doors of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where I work, a team of professionals is constantly on the move, making sure their tiny charges get the round-the-clock care they need. Everything we do here is about more than saving lives — it’s about staying one step ahead. And blazing new trails wherever we can. Your donations are what makes this possible.

In 2018, with the help of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, a strategy known as in situ simulation (ISS) was put in place to guide best practices in the NICU. ISS involves re-creating hypothetical emergency situations that our teams could very well be called upon to face: a baby in respiratory distress, post-op complications, a sudden infection and more. These scenarios give the teams an opportunity to practise and perfect their response and improve their communication and teamwork.

The goal is simple: to be able to apply what is learned when these same situations occur for real, with actual patients. Training helps optimize the quality and safety of the care we provide. Even the more complex simulations, which occur only rarely, are vital in equipping our teams to be ready to take action when it counts.

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© CHU Sainte-Justine
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© CHU Sainte-Justine
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© CHU Sainte-Justine
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© CHU Sainte-Justine

Considerable progress has been made as a result of this program. The workload is shared more equitably. Assistant head nurses are asserting their leadership. Doctors are using a time-out technique to reassess the situation and direct their team accordingly.

Simulations make us better at times when it really matters. And the motivation is definitely there: ISS provides us with the impetus to keep improving and deliver continuously better care.

The simulation enabled us to identify situations that we are likely to encounter in our unit. I feel much more prepared now.

NICU nurse

CHU Sainte-Justine

ISS helped give me perspective on what I didn’t notice in the heat of the action and yet was very important for the effective management of our patients.

Neonatologist

CHU Sainte-Justine
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© Véronique Lavoie

Re-creating a womb-like environment

A fetus is shielded from the stimuli of the outside world during pregnancy. This is critical for their overall development. But a preterm newborn in a NICU that is not equipped to protect them can suffer serious consequences on their long-term health and well-being.

The NICU staff uses an array of strategies to re-create the safe environment of the womb. Kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) is started as soon as possible. Light and noise levels are controlled in the rooms, and we use specialized positioning aids. Your support has helped us fine-tune our expertise in developmental supportive care and spearhead a number of projects focusing on the neurosensory and neurobehavioural development of preterm infants.

Your donations are what make it possible to advance these efforts and expand our teams’ knowledge. This in turns helps optimize the development and the future of the newborns at Sainte-Justine — and babies in other hospitals — and support parents as they adjust to their new role.

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© Geneviève Giguère
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© Geneviève Giguère
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© Geneviève Giguère

Developmental care clearly demonstrates how the actions taken by hospital staff can impact our patients for many years to come. Which is why we have to pull out all the stops for them right now. And you are the reason we can do this.

The impact is undeniable. The statistics bear this out: the preterm survival rate leapt a full 25% between 2004 and 2017 because of research and new neonatal practices introduced across the country.

Your donations make us better and empower us to inspire other NICUs in Quebec to do the same.

Thank you for supporting us in our ambitions.


Audrey Larone Juneau
Management Advisor in Nursing Science, Critical Care, CHU Sainte-Justine

*The remarks expressed in this article reflect the opinion solely of the author and should not be considered as representative of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.