When Keith Jones Jr. was born Oct. 22, weighing three pounds, two ounces, doctors told his mother, Jessica Jones, he’d be staying in the hospital for a while.
Jones wasn’t due until January. On Nov. 7 the infant was transferred from B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver to Victoria General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Mom was offered a bed at Jeneece Place, just across the parking lot.
“It’s really nice here, it’s far from home, but it feels like a home, it’s very warm and welcoming,” said Jones, a Duncan resident who went home with her baby in mid-December.
Her story is one of many to come out of Jeneece Place in the year since it opened to provide respite for family members of pediatric patients at VGH.
When she’s not providing a shoulder to lean on, the facility’s house manager, Christina Peacock, is busy vacuuming, making beds or doing laundry.
“Most importantly I welcome families and show them the house,” she said.
Jeneece Place can house 10 families at a time and is often at or over capacity. Some families have even slept in campers or a school bus in the parking lot.
The client families are generally divided into three categories: those with premature or sick babies, people with scheduled appointments and those dealing with injuries from emergency situations such as fires or car crashes.
Priority is given to non-residents. Among the nearly 300 family members who have stayed at the house are people from Prince Edward Island and France.
“But, our focus is families for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands,” Peacock said.
When there is space, local families have used the house.
One situation saw a mother who had a c-section and doesn’t drive stay there so she could go to VGH to feed her baby every three hours.
Jeneece Place is also open for day-use for parents to use the shower, kitchen or to just savour a cup of tea away from the hospital.
“Often parents will sleep in the hospital with their child,” Peacock said. “They just step out of the hospital for a while to help take a little of the pressure off.”
Jeneece Place hosts birthday bash
Jeneece Place, located on the south portion of the Victoria General Hospital property, is hosting a public open house on Sunday, Jan. 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.