Parents raising funds to help install webcams in KGH NICU

Patrick Kerr with his daughter, Hannah, the inspiration behind ‘Operation Hellping Hannah,’ a fundraiser aiming to equip the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) with webcams in order to allow parents to virtually view their children staying in the unit. Submitted photo.

One local family and their steadfast supporters have begun on a mission to raise funds for webcams in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Kingston General Hospital (KGH)

Patrick Kerr and his wife, Abigail, started the campaign, ‘Operation Hellping Hannah,’ raising funds to install webcams at all isolettes in the unit, after their challenging experience with their daughter being in the NICU. Their daughter, Hannah, was born on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 at 27 weeks, weighing only one pound and 12 ounces, due to complications of HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count). This rare but potentially dangerous condition affects pregnant women. Hannah spent 110 days in the NICU as a result. During that time, as Kerr describes, there were many highs and lows. 

Kerr is a corporal in the Canadian Forces Joint Signals Regiment, and Abigail is a nurse at KGH. Through their fundraising activity, the target is to contribute to the $100,000 needed for the webcams and related equipment for the NICU at KGH.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is a limitation on visits to the hospital. The visitation is also time-capped at only six hours a day in a block of 3 hours at a time for each parent. However, on regular days (pre-pandemic), parents would be with their children all the time. 

Patrick and Kevin ready for rucking from Perth to Kingston on Sept 25-26, 2021. Submitted photo.

“The team there is amazing and assure you they’ve seen it time and time again and that your child will be fine. Having a dedicated webcam to check in on your child is a game-changer for NICU families. Being able to log in via a secure portal and view your little one at any time would give so much reassurance, even more so with the current restrictions, and during normal times. The parents who would spend hours at the bedside could step away, but still have that link to their baby,” Kerr expressed.

Hannah is now six months old and weighs over 5 kg. She is described as a bright-eyed and opinionated young kid by her father, who said his daughter’s health and happiness wouldn’t have been possible without the NICU of Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). 

Hence, On Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, over the weekend, Kerr and his military friend, Corporal Kevin Founier, will be rucking for 110 kms from Perth to Kingston to raise funds for the campaign. Rucking is walking with a loaded backpack and has been a very common activity in the military since Roman times. 

“Taking your stuff from Point A to Point B. I’ve been part of several military races that involved a rucking component, some over 50 km long. I thought it was a unique idea and decided 1 km for every day Hannah was in the NICU would be a great challenge. At the time, I didn’t realize she would be there for 110 days, but it’s all for a great cause,” said Kerr.

So far, the GoFundMe page has raised over $30k with a target set at $35k 

“The amount of people who have used the NICU and reached out to us has been quite large. It seems most people have a story. The military community has been very supportive of us, as well, with current members and veteran-owned businesses contributing,” said Kerr.

For more information on ‘Operation Hellping Hannah — 110 km for the NICU’ or to contribute to the cause, visit the GoFundMe campaign here.

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