Pediatric nurse Bonnie Wilkie has spent her life working with newborn babies and helping families through the stress of having a premature baby.
Bonnie has been nursing for more than 30 years and arrived in Kelowna in 1997 becoming heavily involved in the pediatric unit at Kelowna General Hospital.
“It’s quite the privilege to spend time with families for the birth of a child,” says Bonnie from the new perinatal unit at KGH, which opened earlier this year.
“One of the things that has stuck with me is whatever experience people have with a premature baby, that sticks with them for their whole life. For us, how well we do our jobs impacts the baby’s entire life. We have the potential to make a huge impact.”
Working with premature baby’s everyday is incredibly stressful and critical, not just for the newborn but also for the parents and the entire family.
Bonnie and the staff in the neonatal unit make it a priority to make families comfortable as they go through a stressful process.
“That’s my responsibility and really our whole leadership team. We’re really trying to be family-centred in this unit, make it comfortable for families.”
Alongside her duties as a nurse, working to help infants get better, Wilkie has also taken a leadership role in working with the KGH Foundation, where she connects with people who are interested in donating money to the hospital.
She commits hundreds of hours of her own time to make sure people understand the critical role the public can play in supporting the hospital and allowing it to purchase equipment.
Many of those people who she meets with are people who have had a premature baby or a sick child and are looking to help out themselves coming back to the hospital that once helped them out.
“Many families come back to the unit and people with small children come and donate their gifts,” she says.
“For me the best compliment we can get is when we are having a horrendous event going on but after it people say that we looked calm. I’m just doing my job and I’m lucky to have a job I love. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”