Every mum with a baby born prematurely or critically ill at Salisbury District Hospital can now stay by their side on the Neonatal Unit thanks to the Stars Appeal.
The Stars Appeal, Salisbury District Hospital’s Charity, has funded the construction of two additional ‘mother and baby rooms’ on the Neonatal Unit. There are now six of these rooms along with four larger en-suite family rooms where mums and their partners can stay together.
The £25,000 expansion of the unit’s family accommodation also includes additional space for breastfeeding clinics and other support.
The Neonatal Unit, which is sometimes referred to as the special care baby unit or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), provides care for up to 10 babies at any one time, so now, even when the Unit is full, there’s room for every mum to stay.
The Kavanaghs, from Fordingbridge, are just one of the families to experience the benefits of staying in one of the new Stars Appeal rooms for mums and their babies.
Emma and her wife Lisa welcomed son Cohan late last year, who needed care at the Neonatal Unit after being born five weeks early.
Lisa spent a week in one of the new rooms, which provided a private space for her to be with Cohan. She said: “It is just what a Neonatal Unit should be like. That is what is unique to Salisbury. Had we not had the room, I would have been in a separate ward and lost out on spending time with Cohan as I would not have been able to stay with him.”
She added: “Being able to wake up with him next to me was fantastic because as a parent you don’t want to leave them.”
Emma, 41, was given a chance to stay in one of the family rooms but would go home to be with their two-year-old son Ellis after visiting the Hospital. She says she was glad to have that option available to them.
The couple also say the Stars Appeal playroom on the Neonatal Unit made it a “fun and positive” environment for Ellis to meet his baby brother in hospital and cope with being separated from Lisa.
They praised the “incredible” hospital staff. Emma said: “We can’t thank them enough,” adding: “It was an amazing experience even though it was one of the most stressful times we remember having.”
Speaking about having the accommodation for parents, Lisa said: “We thought that it was just standard but it isn’t. What Salisbury and the NICU do is unique and for us it was an essential part of keeping us close as a family.”
“It made a really difficult process easier to cope with,” continues Lisa. “I can’t imagine not having that.”
Emma said: “What the Stars Appeal has created keeps families like mine together when they need it most.”
The family have been settling into life at home with Cohan and Emma says he is “getting stronger” day by day, adding: “He is doing as well as we could hope.”
Speaking to the charity’s supporters, Emma said: “We want to say they are incredible and their contribution makes a significant difference to parents in challenging times. We are grateful that these facilities were on our doorstep and feel very fortunate as this might not have been the case if we had to go elsewhere.”
Neonatal Unit matron, Geoff Dunning, said: “It’s fantastic that we can now offer all of our mums a place to stay alongside their baby. Our parents’ accommodation is among the best in the country. We just couldn’t do it without the generosity of local people who donate to the Stars Appeal.”
The Stars Appeal is looking to fund projects for 2023 that will enhance the care of babies at the hospital. These include a £20,000 cerebral function monitor to monitor babies’ brains on the Neonatal Unit.
As well as a £142,000 echocardiogram machine for the Cardiac Investigation Unit that will reduce waiting times for patients awaiting diagnosis, £55,000 for new scalp cooling machines to help reduce hair loss for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy on the Pembroke Unit, and a £15,000 mechanical CPR machine.
To find out more about projects the Stars Appeal is looking to fund in 2023 visit starsappeal.org/what-were-fundraising-for