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Donor Story

How Unifor’s Support Helped Our NICU

In 2023 when our friends at Unifor Local 222 read about our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s (NICU) need for a Biliblanket phototherapy system, they immediately sprang into action.

“We have wonderful support staff here at Local 222 that told us about the opportunity to help the Foundation,” explains Jeff Gray, President of Unifor Local 222. “Once the staff read about the need, we set the wheels in motion to connect and make the donation.”

Unlike traditional ways of addressing jaundice in infants, a Biliblanket wraps around these small patients. It allows babies to be fed or cuddled during phototherapy, which reduces bilirubin in the blood.

Unifor Local 222 has supported Lakeridge Health Foundation for over 30 years. In addition to the NICU, they have helped fund advancements in cancer , dialysis, cardiac care and many other areas of our Hospital.

Local 222 has a fund that Unifor oversees, which enables them to support their community. “This donation is exactly why we have the fund,” says Jeff. “As President, it was amazing to make this gift without needing to go through any boards for approval.”

To commemorate the donation, Jeff and Financial Secretary Rob Romano visited our Oshawa Hospital with a cheque for $10,500 to fund the purchase of the Biliblanket. “Being part of the day of the donation was truly an amazing experience,” says Jeff.

The Biliblanket arrived over the summer months and was put to work immediately providing the highest therapeutic light available to treat neonatal jaundice and enables our care teams to treat infants effectively using triple phototherapy.

“During triple phototherapy, the baby is placed on top of the blanket and underneath two lights,” explains Dr. Joan Abohweyere, Co-Medical Director of Paediatrics and Neonatology. “By maximizing the surface area exposed to the therapeutic lights, we can rapidly decrease the baby's bilirubin levels.”

Effective triple phototherapy can also reduce the likelihood of a baby being transferred outside Durham Region for treatment.

“A Biliblanket is a very important tool that helps us care for our youngest patients,” says Dr. Abohweyere. “The blanket also takes the baby out of isolation. The child can be cuddled or fed for a longer period. It also allows you to do skin-to-skin.”

The blanket benefits every member of the family, as increased access to the baby can lower the stress levels of new parents.

“Local health care is a huge issue for us at Local 222,” says Jeff. “[Our membership] are proud to have made this possible.”

On behalf of our NICU, thank you to Unifor Local 222 for their continued support of our Foundation.