Emma Miller, who was born premature, and father Brian benefited from the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Children’s health foundation announces $4.7M in funding on the Island

Money targeted to early childhood development, youth mental health, rural health-care access

Brian Miller is happy to hear that the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island will provide $4.7 million in health-care funding for kids on the Island.

Miller, from Campbell River, received aid from the charitable foundation when he and his wife went down to Victoria for an ultrasound when she was eight months pregnant with daughter Emma, now five years old. His wife was diagnosed with late-term preclampsia, which can lead to high blood pressure.

“Every time [the doctor] would stop, he would look at her heart, or he would look at her head, or her kidneys and he would sit. He would stare at the screen and he wouldn’t say anything … for an entire hour this went on, not a word. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack because I had no idea what was happening,” said Miller.

He and his wife were informed Emma would be delivered that day, as the doctor expressed concern about the baby’s brain, heart and kidney. The family wasn’t prepared for a long-term stay, but received assistance through various foundation programs, including a month stay at the foundation’s Jeneece Place, a home-away-from-home in Victoria.

“Being able to stay somewhere like that in a home environment that was restful and not a hospital room … having somewhere where you can literally just walk across the parking lot and be back in the hospital with your family, it’s just a massive blessing,” Miller said.

Veronica Carroll, foundation CEO, said the $4.7 million comes from donors and fundraising efforts and will support three priority areas: early childhood development, child and youth mental health and rural and remote community access to health care.

“We are putting some dollars into early intervention with the dollars that are going to [Nanaimo Child Development Centre] and their family fair and we know that families really rely on access to medical support in health, health professionals out in the community and closer to home,” said Carroll.

Jan Tatlock, Island Health director for public health, said the health centre at John Barsby Secondary School could benefit.

“It would go to enhancing services for children and youth particularly around mental health and wellness,” said Tatlock. “We’ve already started some work at the John Barsby school … We’d like to grow that from John Barsby. We’ve already done some outreach to [Nanaimo District Secondary] and other high schools and we would like to then look at the second layer, which is our elementary school kids, so that’s where the funding will go to to help enhance and grow and build on the work that we’ve already done.”



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