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Athabasca Healthcare Centre Auxiliary Association donates new equipment to hospital

New $36,000 Panda Warmer will help ensure the safety of babies born in Athabasca
Before getting to see a demonstration of the Panda Warmer they had just donated, Athabasca Healthcare Centre Auxiliary Association members (left) Annie Wagner, Doris Shalapay, Darlene Kosinski, Heather Wallach, and Lucille Strong posed alongside the new machine and Athabasca Healthcare Centre nurses Railey Keuning, Mikaela Minkus, Kristen Mackenzie, and Tabitha Stewart.

ATHABASCA – After eight months of fundraising, the Athabasca Healthcare Centre Auxiliary Association was finally able to gather at the Athabasca Healthcare Centre July 28 for a demonstration of the new Panda Warmer that they recently donated. 

The device will help ensure the safety of any babies who happen to be born in Athabasca by helping regulate temperature and breathing. 

“An average of about five babies a year are born in Athabasca, seven a couple years ago. They're usually all emergent, so this is what we need. They tend to be high risk,” said nurse Kristen Mackenzie.  

“It is really hard to control the amount of volume when it comes to ventilators. The baby's really sensitive to how much air we give them. For many years we've been using this kind of blindly, just hoping that we're not over stressing their lungs and things like that,“ she continued when talking about the importance of the machine that was donated.   

“The coolest thing about the Panda is that it comes with what we call a DPS resuscitator... instead of using a bag where it's controlled by the user it uses just a tube that connects directly to the machine.” 

Having this machine will allow parents to feel safer if their child is being delivered in Athabasca as the nurses and doctors now have more of the tools sometimes needed to ensure the good health of the baby.  

“We have our every second month meeting and we let Christie, the site manager and Barb Walker, who is a long-term care manager, know when the meeting is and if they have any needs, they bring them to us and that's a process that has to be voted on,” auxiliary member Heather Wallach said when explaining how they decided to get the Panda Warmer.  

“I was very excited to hear that this was coming to us, it’s the Cadillac version of what we were using before,” Mackenzie said.  

Prior to the arrival of the Panda Warmer, the hospital had been using a machine that was over 20 years old in which the hydraulics were no longer functioning.  

“You have no idea what this means to the hospital,” site manager Christie Schmelzle said to the group after they got to see the demonstration of the machine. 

“It's huge, very much appreciated for sure