Martin and Mary Niedballa admire their new little girl Amelia and marvel at the fact that she was the first baby born in the new Polson Tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital Sunday.

Baby girls make historic debut

With his wife in labour with their first born child, Martin Niedballa had visions of chaos as nurses told him they were being moved into the new hospital tower.

With his wife in labour with their first born child, Martin Niedballa had visions of chaos as nurses told him they were being moved into the new hospital tower.

“I just rolled my eyes,” said Martin of the transfer from the old maternal child unit at Vernon Jubilee Hospital to the new Polson Tower Sunday morning.

But within three minutes, Martin’s wife Mary was wheeled from the old, cramped quarters in the west wing to the spacious new tower to the east, without incident.

“It was so smooth,” said Martin, describing how staff even applauded them as they rolled down the hall to their new room. “It was like the Tour de France.”

The day was made even more memorable as Amelia Grace was welcomed to the world at 1:57 p.m. – the first baby born in the new building, and the first operation (she was delivered via cesarean).

“It’s pretty exciting because she will be part of that history,” said 38-year-old Mary, beaming while holding her eight-pound, one-ounce little girl.

Secretly, the teacher and her husband, a producer at KISS FM, had always hoped their baby would be born in the new $180-million tower.

“Every time I went by that countdown clock I would think, it’s not a countdown clock for the new tower, it’s a countdown for my baby,” said Mary, whose due date was also Sept. 25.

Amelia wasn’t the only one to make a historic debut over the weekend.

Before the big move got underway, another little girl made history as the last baby born in the old maternal child unit.

Kennedy Atkinson, weighing eight pounds, 10 ounces, was welcomed at 6:21 p.m. to parents Bailey and Al of Tappen.

“It’s definitely cool to be part of the history of the old tower,” said 26-year-old Bailey, who wasn’t due until Oct. 11.

During recovery, Bailey and her new family were able to experience both the new and old wings of the hospital.

And there was a notable difference.

“We were sitting in the old room and it felt more packed in,” said Al, who was able to spend the night in the new labour, delivery, recovery and postpartum room thanks to a built-in, fold-out couch.

“This is definitely bigger, it’s nice and comfortable,” added Bailey, comparing the new Women’s and Children’s Health Services department to the old unit. “I like that they’re all private rooms.”

The pair of moms who made history were two of 29 patients that underwent the big move Sunday.

While staff were on scene planning as early as 4 a.m., the move officially got underway at 8:30 (after the new emergency department opened at 7).

By 10:20 a.m., all the patients were settled into the new building and staff were grinning with delight (they didn’t expect to be all moved until after noon).

“There were a lot of people that made it a successful day for us,” said Yolanda Short, operational planner, of the day that went off without a hitch.

Along with those working that day, a number of staff members volunteered to come in on their day off to help with the move.

“They just felt like it was part of our history,” said Short.

But the day wasn’t as joyous as some had hoped, with no funding announcement.

At the top of the tower sits two empty, shelled-in floors, which could add 60 new acute care beds and relieve frequent overcrowded and code purple conditions at VJH.

“Year after year, Vernon Jubilee Hospital has operated at overcapacity, frequently entering states of emergency as a result,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix. “And year after year – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 – the community and local medical and nursing staff have advocated for additional acute care and community health services so the regional hospital can run safely and effectively.

“But even with the opening of the new patient tower (Sunday), Vernon residents and health care workers are still grappling with this crisis in capacity, because the Liberals decided to leave two floors of the new facility that could operate 60 additional acute care beds shelled in.”

Funding has been blamed for the reason the floors cannot be completed, as it estimated it would cost $20 million plus an additional $20 million annually to operate the floors.


Just Posted

Vernon students get course in financial literacy

Credit union liaison teaches students about everything financial to help them plan their futures

Vernon stores part of company holiday food drive

Donate food or cash until Dec. 24 at Wholesale Club or Superstore

Vernon runner third at nationals

Robyn Poulin wins bronze in masters women’s race, gold in age group; handful of local runners compete

New management team for Vernon Upper Room Mission

Trio introduced at open house as they share their goals and vision for the Vernon facility

Kelowna blanks North Okanagan Knights

Both goalies were game stars Saturday in the Chiefs’ 3-0 win

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

West Kelowna house fire demonstrates danger posed by candles

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says an unattended candle caused the Sunday afternoon fire.

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

Mitchell’s Musings: Not to be taken internally, seiously?

Common sense needed more than warning labels

Most Read