Donovan Hackett

Jeneece Place welcomes its 1,000th family

Temporary home for families with infants in care provides needed supports

Nestled on the corner of the Victoria General Hospital grounds is a building to which many passersby don’t give a second look.

But that structure is more than just a walls and a roof. It was a young girl’s (Jeneece Edroff) dream that materialized to provide families a little bit of home while their children receive medical treatment.

“Jeneece Place was built by the community for the community,” said Jessica Woollard, a communications officer with the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, which operates the facility. “When families come here, they are being welcomed and cared for by the people who made donations and contributed to build this house. The experience of staying at Jeneece Place becomes part of the healing journey for them. It’s a really special place.”

This special place recently celebrated its own special moment, opening its doors to its 1,000th family, a crew from Campbell River. Jane Thomas and Kalvin Hackett’s newest addition, daughter Ruby, arrived at only 31 weeks and four days when she was born in the North Island community.

Ruby and her parents were flown to Victoria General Hospital by air ambulance just hours after her birth. The infant will likely remain in VGH’s neonatal intensive care unit until her original due date, Dec. 14.

“When we got here, we received an enormous amount of support. This wasn’t an easy experience, but this place made it that much easier for us,” Hackett said.

Thomas said she wasn’t able to say goodbye to their eldest, Donovan, before they were sent to Victoria. “We’re very lucky to have Jeneece Place. There’s nothing more I could ask for … It reminds me of home,” she said.

Big brother Donovan has now joined the family and is having fun playing with all of the buttons in the house.

The Children’s Health Foundation opened Jeneece Place in January 2012. The costs for a family to stay are subsidized by the Foundation, making the fee only $25 for a family to spend a night. But no family is turned away and the Foundation also helps cover the costs of families in need.

Roughly 20 per cent of families have stayed more than once, often multiple times and the longest continuous stay has been for more than one year. The majority of families who use Jeneece Place are from the Island, while some local families use the facilities as a place to wait while their child is receiving treatment or surgery at VGH.

Although the house is on the grounds of VGH, families can stay there if their child is receiving medical care anywhere in Greater Victoria.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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