At Calgary Health Foundation, we are grateful every day for the nurses working long hours to make a difference for patients and their families – impacting their entire health care journey. As we recognize National Nurses Week and International Nurses Day, we are excited to showcase one of these incredible nurses going above and beyond every day, Jacqui Brand.
Jacqui Brand has enjoyed a career that spans 35 years, with 29 of those spent in the Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)- long enough to see many of her NICU graduates grow up, graduate from university and come back to visit. Many, now young adults, often bring their precious NICU journals with them, recognizing the incredible work that is done within the walls of this critical unit. These former NICU patients are full of immense gratitude for the lives they are able to lead thanks to the superheroes who work behind the quiet walls of the NICU.
The NICU at FMC is the only level 3 in born NICU supporting patients in southern Alberta. It is a small pocket on the fifth floor of the main building – the only unit providing care to infants, in an adult hospital.
Jacqui began her career in 1988 working with neurocritical adults in the Intensive Care Unit at Foothills Medical Centre for six years. In 1994, she moved to the NICU and never looked back. She has held a number of roles including a bedside nurse, nurse clinician and flow coordinator – helping families as they transition in and out of the NICU. During her time she has had the privilege to connect with and support endless families. Helping to provide family-centered care and creating a strong, supportive environment where Jacqui knows she and the rest of the team are helping to ease the strain of the critical situation these families find themselves in. Jacqui is also inspired by the changes in research and innovation she has experienced over the years, ensuring that the NICU environment is continuously changing, for the better.
“The changes in innovation and the ways we are able to treat these babies throughout my time in the NICU is revolutionary. We have learned about the importance of skin-to-skin contact with Mom or Dad. The impact of parents being able to feed their babies right away. We have conducted research studies in our NICU that have shown us the importance of reducing sound and our current incubators (isolettes) allow us to significantly do this. Research and technology help to create transformational change.”
Thanks to the completion of the Newborns Need fundraising campaign, the current NICU will be expanding to two floors. The newly renovated and expanded space will be able to provide invaluable family focused environments offering much needed privacy as families adjust to this new, critical journey they are on. There will also be a milk preparation room and a simulation lab for staff training and just-in-time scenario simulations. The care southern Alberta families receive will only continue to improve through this innovative new space.
“To me, the NICU environment embodies growth and learning. This new space will allow our families to continue to receive the best care possible in an even more family-friendly space.”
It is the families that have had the most profound impact on Jacqui over the years. It is through the lens of her experience with the NICU team and families that she views her own life and ensures that she finds the joy in all aspects of life- especially the small things.
Thank you Jacqui, for being one of the many superheroes found on the fifth floor of Foothills Medical Centre!
Happy International Nurses Day to all nurses making a difference in the lives of patients and their families each and every day!