December 16, 2019
It was the most difficult day of her life.
Mylan United Kingdom’s Yulan and her husband were in the maternity ward at East Kent Hospital. But unlike the joy of other couples around them who were welcoming newborns, the 31-weeks pregnant Yulan was there, in a special bereavement suite, to say goodbye to the baby girl she would never know.
In the months ahead, her Mylan colleagues in Sandwich, U.K., would rally around Yulan and her husband, participating in a fundraiser benefitting the hospital’s bereavement suite so that other mothers experiencing pregnancy loss like her could find solace and comfort amid so much sadness.
“We were feeling really lonely because it’s very personal and people come to say they are sorry, but how could they understand us because they may have never been through this?” said Yulan, an analytical scientist who works in a materials science lab for Mylan. “Running with my colleagues for this great cause really helped us to get through this difficult time.”
The group, 19 of them in all, raised £3,400 to be used by the hospital to maintain the Ocean Suite, a private hospital room where couples dealing with pregnancy loss can be alone to grieve. With the help of people like Yulan, the hospital said the Maternity Unit will be also be able to maintain, decorate and furnish the suite, and purchase equipment necessary for families to use.
A Special Place for Families
The Ocean Suite was opened in October 2017, following a fundraising drive called Precious Memories lead by East Kent Hospitals Charity and the maternity staff at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, part of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT). The idea for the suite came from several families who had experienced loss and wanted to use what they had been through to help others in similar situations.
The suite adjoins the Maternity Unit, meaning that women are in close proximity to medical support and monitoring. However, the suite is specifically designed to replicate the comforts of home and not resemble a hospital room. The suite has with soft furnishings, a kitchenette and a bathroom.
“Parents are able to use the privacy and comfort of the suite for as long as they need to, during an incredibly traumatic time. We recognize the importance of being in a peaceful and private environment during this time and the amazing team take every care to ensure that patients are given space and time on their own terms,” said Danielle Neligan, Fundraising and Development Officer for East Kent Hospitals Charity.
The facility was named the Ocean Suite because of the hospital’s close proximity to the water and also to represent the depth and strength of love the families feel for their babies. There is a separate entrance and exit to the suite, and a plan is in place to develop a private, enclosed garden to give the bereaved parents the opportunity to take their babies outside a hospital environment and into the sunshine or rain, perhaps for the only time.
“Sadly, throughout the country, more than 100 babies die each week before, during or soon after birth. The grief experienced by the women and their families is profound and this is why the bereavement suite is so important….Parents need a place where they can receive vital physical and psychological support,” said EKHUFT’s bereavement lead midwife, Emmeline Powell. “It’s also a place of sanctuary where they can be in a peaceful and private environment, but within reach of the maternity team giving their care.”
Rallying Around Their Colleague
When Yulan was discharged from the hospital, her Mylan co-worker, Kylie, visited her. Yulan told Kylie she wished she could do something to help more people who could benefit from having access to the bereavement suite.
Kylie spoke to other colleagues at Mylan, and they decided to raise money by participating in a local run, called the Cakeathon. The event consists of 5 km laps with a selection of cakes at the end of each lap.
“We had originally aimed to complete a total of 160 km between the group, but it seems like cake was good fuel,” Kylie said.
The entire group completed a total of 62 laps, or an incredible 327 km, with some of the participants completing their first ever 10k race, first half marathon and first “heavy half” (any distance between a half and a full marathon).
“As we crossed the finish line and rang the final bell, we were given amazing medals and a large bar of chocolate,” Kylie said. “A huge well done to the team for raising so much money for a fantastic cause!”