In the quiet corridors of Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a precious little one, affectionately called “Luke,” is fast asleep. Born prematurely, he found his first home in the warm embrace of an incubator, surrounded by the soft hum of life-saving machines designed to cater to the special needs of premature and high-risk infants. 

Luke is a fighter and he’s doing well. Mom and dad have been at his bedside for the last two weeks. He just needs to stay a few more days for observation before they can take him home.  

For many families, the NICU is more than a medical unit; it's a second home, a sanctuary where bonds are created, and every tiny victory becomes a cherished milestone. Luke’s parents just stepped out for a little bit, but in the NICU, no patient is ever alone.  

Swaddled in a blanket, there is a soft glow that fills the room from the large windows overlooking the city and right by his side is clinical nurse educator, Anna Naftolin, soothing the baby with her soft voice and calm touch.  

Anna gently unwraps Luke and cradles him in her arms for his feeding. She just picked up his milk from the Breast Milk Prep room, designed to safely store and prepare specialized feedings for the smallest inpatients.  

For 16 years, Anna has cared for Mackenzie Health babies in the NICU, Pediatrics, as well as the Pediatric Urgent Care Clinic (PUCC). For Anna, this is more than just a job — it's her life's calling.  

“Witnessing the resilience and growth of these little ones, and the joy that comes with sending them home healthy, is what makes this journey incredibly rewarding. Every day, I’m reminded of the impact our care has on shaping the future of these precious lives, and that's why I love what I do." 

After feeding and burping Luke, Anna bundles him up in a blanket and places another one on top for extra warmth. Before leaving the room, she plays classical music for him and makes her way down the hall to care for another infant who requires the delicate administration of an intravenous (IV) insertion).  

The NICU offers advanced care for high risk and premature infants born at 30 weeks gestation and beyond. The unit is a serene, peaceful haven where babies are accompanied by their devoted parents and a caring health care team in a home-like setting.   

The NICU at Mackenzie Heath is uniquely special, shaped by the generosity of donors who envisioned a welcoming and supportive space for families in their most fragile moments. As you stroll through the halls, observing the rooms, advanced equipment and available services, gratitude fills the air for those who believed in the vision of providing wraparound care. 

The unit features 12 spacious, private suites, fostering closeness for parents to engage in bonding activities like breastfeeding and skin-to-skin care. Each room is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like neonatal ventilators, fetal monitors and monitoring systems. There’s even a special double room in the unit so twins can stay in the same room as their parents. Dedicated spaces like the R. Ferri Automotive Family Lounge, offers a calming space to support parents and allow families to comfortably stay close to their little ones. A Care by Parent Room further enhances the caring environment, facilitating parental education before discharge. 

“When a baby comes into our NICU, our goal is simple — give them the very best start in life. We're here to help our patients, support their parents and give them hope and comfort as they embark on their journey ahead."