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Jeneece place in Victoria has helped Comox Valley families

COMOX VALLEY MOM Bonnie Harris holds her twins Hailey and Hannah, who were born premature at 20 weeks. Hailey used Jeneece Place in Victoria, which is celebrating its second anniversary, while Hannah spent a significant amount of time at Victoria General Hospital. - Photo submitted
COMOX VALLEY MOM Bonnie Harris holds her twins Hailey and Hannah, who were born premature at 20 weeks. Hailey used Jeneece Place in Victoria, which is celebrating its second anniversary, while Hannah spent a significant amount of time at Victoria General Hospital.
— image credit: Photo submitted

While celebrations were taking place in Victoria for the second anniversary of Jeneece Place, Comox Valley mom Bonnie Harris was celebrating another day with her twin daughters.

Harris, who frequented the home-away-from-home near Victoria General Hospital, said she now takes every day as it comes with a goal of having her daughter's tracheostomy removed.

"(Prior to the twins' birth) I had never been to the Victoria hospital," said Harris. "It was really nice at Jeneece Place; it's a big house where you create connections and get to know other families going through similar things as you. They are so warm and welcoming."

Twenty weeks into her pregnancy, Harris learned she was having twin girls, and one was significantly smaller than the other.

"The egg didn't split in half; the hospital gave me three options — to keep both and continue with ultrasounds, to terminate the smaller baby, or just to go home. I delivered at 29 weeks," she explained.

Both very premature, Hannah was born at 1.7 pounds and Hailey at 2.14 pounds. Hailey spent the first two-and-a-half weeks of her life in hospital, while Hannah "was really, really sick," noted Harris. "Both her heart and bowels weren't growing."

Hannah was in the hospital for 507 days and had five surgeries and 14 blood transfusions.

Following time at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, Harris asked to be transferred to a hospital close to home, and found herself at Victoria General, spending time — their longest was two-and-a-half months — at Jeneece Place.

"We've been back several times since then; in November we spent the whole month there," she added, and noted they have celebrated Easter and Thanksgiving with other families at the house.

The house offers a peaceful, comfortable modern space near the hospital with 10 bedrooms, accommodating more than 40 guests, along with nine staff members and 17 active volunteers.

It costs about $325,000 a year to operate, and opened its doors Jan. 20, 2012 by then-18-year-old founder Jeneece Edroff. It is supported by the Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

Since opening its doors, the house has hosted more than 750 families, with 96 per cent of them coming from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Forty-three Comox Valley families have used the facility.

As a way to keep others updated on the twins' progress as well as provide an outlet for writing, Harris keeps a blog documenting her journey raising the girls. She is looking at expanding to video posts, counting close to 88,000 page views since starting.

"I really wish I had started sooner, but it's a matter of finding time to type," she said.

To view Harris' blog, visit http://b-hannahailey.blogspot.com, and for more information on Jeneece Place, visit http://childrenshealthvi.org/how-we-help/jeneece-place.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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