YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.
This YANA birth story starts over three years ago with the inception of a brand new YANA support program.
Early 2016 – Marcie Dumais, then executive director of YANA, begins discussing the unique situation for pregnant Denman/Hornby moms with Lori Nawrot, executive director of the Hornby and Denman Community Health Care Society. Due to the remote aspect of the islands and challenges related to accessibility, local doctors and midwives make a decision that requires pregnant moms to be off the islands and close to the hospital two-to-three weeks prior to their due date. Lori wonders if there is a role that YANA can play to mitigate the financial burden of these families. Marcie takes the situation back to the YANA board and they develop a plan.
June 1, 2016 – Several ideas and discussions take place and the “Denman Hornby Connector” becomes a reality as a pilot program.
July 6, 2017 – The YANA board approves the program as an ongoing service to Denman and Hornby residents.
February 26, 2018 – YANA receives confirmation that the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (CHFVI) will provide a grant to support the Denman Hornby Connector. Current YANA executive director Kelly Barnie talks about the program and the impact of the grant.
“The program helps cover accommodation expenses for island families during their time away from home due to the birth of a child, pregnancy complications or a child’s admission to hospital. We’re so grateful for the generous support from the CHFVI. The remote healthcare reality and extra costs can leave expectant mothers and sick children very vulnerable without this kind of support. This program significantly reduces stress for families.”
Summer 2017 – Beth leaves her family in Hamilton, Ontario, to work for a couple of months at the Co-op on Hornby Island. She has no idea her life is about to change dramatically. She, like most people who visit Hornby, falls in love with it. She also falls in love with Zack and decides to stay for good, beginning a beautiful island life together.
Summer 2018 – Beth and Zack decide to start a family. They excitedly share the news with their families that they’ll be welcoming a baby next spring.
Winter 2019 – Learning of the program from a friend who used YANA’s Denman Hornby Connector, Beth begins her application and starts researching Comox Valley accommodations. They’re looking for a place where their fur baby Murphy can join them, so Beth works hard to narrow the search and finds a great place in Courtenay.
March 6, 2019 – Beth is relieved that so far everything has gone smoothly and she’s not anticipating any complications for her delivery. Beth contacts Kelly at YANA about her upcoming stay. She sends in her completed application along with the required documentation the same day. Everything is in perfect order and the maximum grant of $1,000 to assist with the cost of the accommodation is approved immediately.
March 18, 2019 – Beth and Zack are two weeks away from their relocation date, so YANA provides their funding via e-transfer.
March 31, 2019 – Beth and Zack leave Hornby Island and move into the Airbnb in Courtenay.
April 13, 2019 – Beth’s due date is today. The day comes and goes with no sign of baby.
April 15, 2019 – Kelly checks in and learns that Beth’s labour has begun.
April 16, 2019 – “Baby Girl Bruszkowski” is born at 3:19 p.m. via c-section. She’s seven pounds, 11 ounces and mom and baby are doing great. At the time of article submission, yet-to-be-named baby girl, and proud new parents Zack and Beth are excited to return home to their island paradise.
“YANA’s help was wonderful,” said Beth. “It would have been very difficult to afford to stay close to the hospital without their assistance. Thank you YANA!”
Click here for more information about the Denman Hornby Connector.