Champions Start Small: A Gift from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation Helps Our Tiniest Patients at St. Joe’s

To stop the spread of COVID-19, many hospitals temporarily closed some clinics or delayed elective surgeries—but one thing that simply couldn’t be stopped or delayed was the arrival of new little bundles of joy in our Mother Baby Unit. As the busiest maternity ward in Hamilton, St. Joe’s welcomes over 3,650 babies every year.

Sometimes newborns need a little extra care and support upon arrival, and that’s when the expert team at
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Special Care Nursery can help. Every year, the nursery cares for about 600 infants born prematurely, or born with health concerns that require specialized care.

Babies are also transferred to St. Joe’s as they transition from receiving intensive care at another hospital to our level two nursery, where these little champions in the making continue to get stronger as they prepare to go home for the very first time.

The Special Care Nursery needs a lot of specialized equipment to help the babies they care for to properly breathe and eat, as well as monitor their hearts, lungs, blood pressure and oxygen rates. This equipment, including incubators, warmers and bassinettes is essential, yet not eligible for funding by the province. Thanks to a new donation of $11,500 from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, St. Joe’s is able to purchase two new feeding pumps and a bassinette for the unit.

“The team in the Special Care Nursery is grateful for the generous donation from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation,” says Dr. Kelly Fitzpatrick, Chief of the Pediatrics Department, at St. Joe’s. “A new bassinette provides a safe, comfortable home for an infant during their stay with us. It is where they spend a lot of their time when not being held by their mother or a care-giver, so it’s important they be as comfortable and technologically advanced as possible. The bassinettes allow babies to sleep, to heal and to grow while we carefully monitor their health and progress. In addition, many babies are not quite ready to feed on their own, so the two new feeding pumps will help them get the nourishment they need, which in turn, supports healthy physical and mental development. We’re so grateful for this donation that is truly helping us to care for our tiniest patients.”

Sandra Schmirler, fondly known as ‘Schmirler the Curler’ won the hearts of Canadians as the skip of our womens’ national curling team. Under Sandra’s leadership, the team won three world championships and Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in curling in 1998. Sadly, Sandra passed away in the year 2000 at just 36 years of age, leaving behind two very young daughters. The Foundation established in Sandra’s memory now provides funds to Canadian hospitals to purchase life-saving equipment for newborn intensive care units because Sandra always believed that Champions Start Small.