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Dr. Karel O’Brien

Family Integrated Care (FICare) Parents as Primary Caregivers at the NICU

Why parent engagement in the care of their infant in the NICU is important for both the infant and the family and how parental presence needs to be supported even during the COVID-19 epidemic. - for Parents and HCP

Dr. Linda Franck

Worldwide Impact of Covid-19 on Patient and Family Centred Care

Dr. Franck will share findings from an international survey of changes to hospital policies and practice regarding patient and family-centred care during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and how hospitals engaged patient and family advisors in planning and implementing changes. - for HCP

Fabiana Bacchini

Together for babies born too soon: caring

for the future. It’s World Prematurity Day!

Through her personal story, Fabiana will share the importance of peer support, education and collaboration. In honour of this special day, learn the steps taken by the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation to ensure we are creating a brighter future for premature babies and their families and be the first to see our new educational video series for families who are just starting their NICU journey. - for Parents and HCP

Victoria DiGiovanni

Growing Up a Preemie

Victoria hopes to share some insight into what her experience entailed for her and her family, as well as the hurdles she faced during childhood and adolescence. She will approach this sensitive topic which can often feel scary, uncertain, and vulnerable to shed some light as to what it means to beat the odds. Each small victory counts, because the little things become the big things, and before you know it, 25 weeks turns into 25 years. -  for Parents and HCP

Dr. Meghan Azad

Milk and Microbes: How Breastfeeding and Gut Bacteria Shape Lifelong Health

Breast milk is an extraordinary ‘superfood’, providing all of the nutrients a baby needs, in exactly the right combination.Breast milk is also the ultimate ‘personalized medicine’, providing protection against infections during infancy. These incredible properties of breast milk are related to its bioactive components, including live bacteria and specialized sugars that help ‘seed and feed’ the baby’s gut microbiome.  

Nancy Feeley

NICU Fathers and Covid-19: International Study

An international study underway to learn about fathers’ experiences in the NICU during the COVID pandemic. Her presentation will describe the online study and hopefully some of the preliminary findings related to the challenges fathers have confronted this year. 

Dr. Mehaboob Shaik MD, FRCPI

NowICU – Connecting Mom’s with Babies 

A mother’s feedback prompted Dr. Shaik to connect parents to interact with their baby in the NICU, using AHS customized iPads. The iPads are secured with encrypted video and audio-conferencing software that live streams (NOT ZOOM).  This presentation will highlight the process, time line, journey of a NICU parent, and family comments about the technology. 

Jack Hourigan 

Connecting & Communicating well with Preemie Parents Virtually & Bedside 

The essential role that parents play as partners in the circle of care, especially during times of Covid-19!  Strategies for engagement, wellness and virtual communication with Preemie families will be explored, followed by a live Q & A. - for HCP and Parents

Claire Osepchook & Claire Dion Fletcher

Hospitalist Midwives: Improving Indigenous Cultural Safety in Neonatal Intensive Care Units

An overview of the role of Hospitalist midwives in addressing cultural safety for Indigenous families in neonatal intensive care units of an urban level 3 hospital. Taking a strengths-based approach we will outline disparities in health outcome in Canada, explore the important of culture and ceremony in birth and the early postpartum and provide examples of initiatives taken to improve care for Indigenous families.   


Dr. Karel O’Brien is a staff neonatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is a clinical teacher and neonatologist at a very busy perinatal center that specializes in fetal diagnosis and therapy and also works in the follow up clinic. She has trained in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research.
Her current research has focused on the development of Family Integrated Care, a model that changes how we deliver care to families and their infants in the NICU, and she has recently completed an international trial of this model of care. 


Professor Linda Franck holds the Jack and Elaine Koehn Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing. She has extensive clinical, research and academic experience in maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care, with a particular emphasis on improving patient and family partnered healthcare delivery and research.


From 2015-2020 she served as Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Postnatal Research for the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative. In 2020, she was inducted into the Sigma Nursing Researcher Hall of Fame and named the UCSF School of Nursing Research Mentor of the Year.


Fabiana is the Executive Director of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation. She is a journalist and the published author of From Surviving to Thriving, a Mother’s Journey Through Infertility, Loss and Miracles.

While in the NICU with her surviving twin, born extremely preterm, she participated in the study of Family Integrated Care (FICare). This led her to the extensive volunteering in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital and to become an ambassador for FICare, travelling across Canada and internationally to share her experience with this model of care. Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which continued to empower her to be a strong voice and advocate for premature babies and their families.

Currently, Fabiana serves as an advisor on the National Steering Committee for FICare, the Critical Care Services Ontario (ONICAC group), Child-Bright Network, Cultivating Change Committee at the Sinai Health System and The Change Foundation Caregiver Project.  She also sits on the CIHR Institure Advisory Board of the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.

She is a member of the founding committee of Global Alliance for Newborn Care, (GLANCE).


Victoria DiGiovanni was born at 25-weeks gestation weighing 790 grams, arriving into this world with anxiety-provoking circumstances for her and her family. With a strong support system of family members, a team of allied health professionals, and NICU support staff she was able to thrive.


Victoria has since graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Studies and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and has been working as a pediatric occupational therapist for over a year. She hopes to one day support preterm infants and NICU families in their journey


Dr. Azad is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba. She holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease and co-Directs the new Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC). Her research program is focused on the role of infant nutrition and the microbiome in child growth, development and resilience. Dr. Azad co-leads the Manitoba site of the CHILD Cohort Study, a national pregnancy cohort following 3500 children to understand how early life experiences shape lifelong health. She is leading a clinical trial to improve matching procedures for preterm neonates receiving donor human milk, and directing the new International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Azad serves on the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Executive Council and the joint US/Canada Human Milk Composition Initiative. 


Nancy Feeley RN PhD FCAN is Associate Professor at the Ingram School of Nursing, McGill University, and Senior Researcher at the Lady Davis Research Institute of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal Quebec.


Her research focuses on the psychological adjustment and parenting of mothers and fathers of newborns requiring neonatal intensive care. This work is relevant to the current preoccupations of neonatology: the central role of parents in their infant’s care and promoting parental mental health.


Dr. Shaik as a Neonatologist is passionate about Family Integrated care.

He envisioned and successfully implemented NowICU (NICU) project - Connecting sick mothers with their sick babies in NICU at the Misericordia Hospital:  2019.

He collaborated with Adult Mental Health and introduced Maternal Mental health support for Mothers with babies in the NICU: 2017

He introduced Donor Human Milk in NICU’s in Edmonton Zone: 2012

He has encouraged introduction of programs such as : Treasure Beads, Bonding hearts, Cuddler’s program and Edmonton Public library story reading to NICU babies to engage parents in the NICU which have had a positive impact on the mothers and the babies.

He is a recipient of the Health Quality Council of Alberta patient experience award.

He was nominated ‘Doctor of the week Alberta Health services’:  May 17 2019 

He received the Physician Innovator Award – 2017 by the Edmonton Zone Medical association


Jack Hourigan specializes in building connection. As a professionally trained improviser (Second City Alumna), writer and former television host, she combines her lived experience as a Preemie Parent with her communications expertise to integrate teams, bring awareness and enhance health care delivery.


She volunteers with the  Canadian Premature Babies Foundation (CPBF) , works with the  #itdoesnthavetohurt pain management education and other initiatives which enhance  the lives of patients, families and health care professionals.


Claire Osepchook, RM  is a registered midwife at Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto and a Hospitalist Midwife at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  She is a descendant of settlers from the UK and Ukranian immigrants. She has an academic background in biochemistry, medical health research, and teaching.  Claire is committed to supporting her Indigenous and non-Indigneous colleagues, clients and their families. 

Claire Dion Fletcher, RM  is a Potawatomi-Lenape and mixed settler Registered Midwife practicing in Toronto, Ontario. Claire is co-Chair of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives and an Assistant Professor in the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University. Claire is dedicated to the growth of Indigenous midwifery in Canada and the expansion of Indigenous midwifery education.


Dr.Nicole van Veenendaal

The CROWN Iniciative

A European initiative on family integrated care with leading hospitals in the field of family integrated care (the CROWN-initiative: Creating Room and Opportunities on Wards for Newborns and their families); she will be presenting and introducing the four C’s for Closeness, core components of FICare within neonatal settings. These can give an overview towards successful implementation of FICare independent of setting and resources. - for HCP

Lori Romas

A Parent Experience in the NICU during the Pandemic

Lori Romas, preemie parent, talking about her family journey in the NICU at beginning of the pandemic. She was transferred to another province, separated from her baby and forced to cope alone.  Out of province protocol prevented Lori from seeing her husband and other children.  Lori was stranded a few hours from home with only her purse and winter mukluks, forced to choose between staying with her new infant or leaving him behind to return home.

Silke Mader

World Prematurity Day: A Glance at the Zero Separation Campaign

This year WPD will be in the middle of a pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, neonatal units have adopted a separation policy, limiting or prohibiting access of parents to neonatal care units. In partnership with  parent organisations and partners across the world EFCNI developed an international campaign “Zero Separation. Together for better care! Keep preterm and sick babies close to their parents”. -  for Parents and HCP

Dr. Stephanie Liu

Caring for your preemie baby at home

Join Dr. Stephanie Liu, family physician, mom of two, and founder of Life of Dr. Mom as she provides tips on caring for your preemie at home. She will discuss topics from how to care for your preemies skin to baby sleep tips.  - for Parents and HCP

Dr. Merilee Brockway

Examining Trends in Global Preterm Rates During the Pandemic Lockdown

The emerging trends in preterm birth rates during the pandemic lockdown: two small studies that have identified that preterm birth rates fell drastically during the pandemic lockdown. Researchers from  iPOP have gathered a large international group of scientists from over 20 countries to look at these trends and to identify any factors that may have caused this trend to happen. We will discuss these possibilities and invite feedback and discussion from the audience. 

Dr. Jessica Duby

Technological Innovations to Support Parents in the NICU 

Parenting a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is an extremely stressful and challenging experience. Over the past decade, technology has been developed to enable parents to connect with their babies even when they cannot be physically present at the bedside. This presentation will explore how technology may be used to better support parents in the NICU as well as the challenges that may arise with such innovation.  

Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo

 Leveraging digital technology to enhance parental involvement in the NICU

We continue to face challenges in finding optimal ways to enhance parental engagement. During this presentation, we will discuss the development and initial testing and implementation of the Chez NICU Home Platform, an evidenced based parent targeted web-based education and support platform aimed to enhance family integration in neonatal care. Implications of COVID 19 pandemic restrictions will also be discussed.   

Dr. Pablo Duran, WHO

Sustaining essential care preterm newborn: challenges within the COVID 19 pandemic 


Dr. Shoo Lee

The Future of Neonatology 

 Coming soon


Jessica Duby is a neonatologist at Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McGill University. She obtained her medical degree at the University of Toronto and a master of public health at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Duby completed her pediatric residency at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City and her neonatology fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.


Her academic interests are in global health and family participation in health care. In the spring of 2020, she was awarded a Technology Grant from Pampers Canada and the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation. With this grant, she founded NeoConnect to virtually link families and their babies in the MCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit through video chats and parental voice recordings.


Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo, a neonatal nurse practitioner and clinician scientist, is a Full Professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University and holds cross appointments in the Department of Pediatrics, and Psychology and Neuroscience. Her Canada Foundation of Innovation funded research lab, MOM-LINC (Mechanisms, Outcome and Mobilization of Maternally-Led Interventions to Improve Newborn Care) is located at the IWK Health Centre.


She primarily holds grants examining maternally-led interventions to improve outcomes of medically at-risk newborns specifically related to pain, stress and neurodevelopment as well as novel knowledge synthesis and dissemination methods, and digital e-heath interventions aimed at enhancing parental engagement. 


Medical Doctor and PhD from University of Buenos Aires, MPH from University of El Salvador (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and specialized in Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Pedro de Elizalde, Fellow in International Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA). Master in Journalism and scientific, medical and environmental communication (Univ. Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Spain). Master in Epistemology and History of Science (University of Tres de Febrero, Argentina).


Currently Dr. Pablo Durán is the Regional Advisor on Perinatal Health at the Latin American Center for Perinatology (CLAP/SMR), Pan American Health Organization /World Health Organization.


Dr. Duran is Associate Professor from the Department of Public Health, University of Buenos Aires. He has more than twenty-five years of clinical experience, as a researcher and expert in epidemiology, monitoring and evaluation of policies and population interventions in maternal, newborn and child health. Prior to joining PAHO/WHO in 2010, he worked mainly in Argentina but internationally as well. He has obtained four (4) training scholarships in Argentina and abroad.


He has received nine (9) awards for scientific work related to child nutrition, reviewer in different international scientific publications, and author of more than 50 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals, he is the author of more than 15 books and contributor to technical and publication books on pediatric, nutrition, epidemiology and public health.


Dr. Shoo Lee is a neonatologist and health economist. He is Scientific Director of the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Public Health, Paediatrician-in-Chief and Director if the Maternal-Infant Care (MiCare) Research Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Senior Clinician Scientist of the Lunenfeld-Tannenbaum Research Institute.

Dr. Lee received his medical degree from the University of Singapore, completed his paediatric training at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in Newfoundland and neonatal fellowship training at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and received his PhD in Health Policy (Economics) from Harvard University.

As the founder and Chairman of the Canadian Neonatal network TM and the International Neonatal Collaboration, Dr. Lee fosters collaborative research, and he leads the CIHR Team in Maternal-Infant Care. His research focuses on improving quality of care, patient outcomes and health care services delivery. He developed Family Integrated Care model as a paradigm of care in the neonatsl intensive care unit.


Dr. Merilee (Meredith) Brockway​ is a registered nurse and an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Calgary with Dr. Karen Benzies, examining maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy and infant feeding outcomes in moderate and late preterm infants enrolled in the Alberta Family Integrated Care (FICare) trial. Merilee is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manitoba in Dr. Meghan Azad’s lab, exploring clinical applications of donor human milk.


Specifically, her proposed research will explore the hypothesis that in the absence of mother’s own milk, the use of donor milk matched to maternal secretor status will result in significantly more favourable microbiome diversity. Merilee’s research is funded by the Molly Towell Perinatal Research Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation and her research space is supported by the NorthernStar Mother’s Milk Bank. When Merilee is not researching breastfeeding and human milk, she enjoys hiking with her family, reading and drinking good coffee.


Dr. Stephanie Liu is a Family Physician and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Alberta. She graduated from Columbia University with a Masters of Science and completed her Doctor of Medicine at the University of Alberta.


Dr. Liu is the creator of parenting blog "Life of Dr Mom" where she discusses her experiences as a first-time mom and provides evidence-based child and maternal health information. Her goal is to provide parents with a credible medical resource so they can make informed decisions when it comes to the health of their families. During her free time, Dr. Liu's favourite activity is spending time with her husband Graeme and their kids George and Madi. ​​


Silke Mader is the Chairwoman of the Executive Board and co-founder of EFCNI. In 1997, her twins were born in the 25th week of pregnancy, and Silke Mader and her family did not receive enough information and support she needed. Unfortunately, one of them died a few days after birth. During her time in hospital and afterwards, Silke Mader was faced with the non-existence of support of any kind, the absence of public awareness and the lack of information and education for parents during pregnancy. Her motivation is to prevent parents from making similar experiences in such painful situations. As the conditions throughout Europe are distressingly similar and preterm children urgently need a voice within Europe and worldwide, she decided to take on the role of chair on the Executive Board of EFCNI.

In 2012 Silke Mader was awarded the “Prix Courage” by ZDF television programme “ML mona lisa” in cooperation with the cosmetics company Clarins. 2013 she received the Medal for Particular Services to Bavaria in a United Europe. Since 2014 she is Honorary Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2015, Silke Mader has been awarded as social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow and in 2016 she received the Bavarian State Medal for Services concerning Health and Long-term Care.


Lori is partner to Jason and mother of their 5 children.


After 4 term pregnancies,  Lori and Jason’s fifth child, Scott, was born on March 27, 2020 at 32 weeks, weighing 1260g. He was delivered via emergency c-section by his family doctor, then airlifted to the nearest NICU.


Scott spent 37 days in the NICU before he and Lori returned home to be reunited with the rest of the family. Lori is currently on parental leave from her job as a Registered Dietitian at Lake of the Woods District Hospital. Scott is now 5 months adjusted age (7 months actual), healthy, and thriving.


Nicole van Veenendaal works as a clinician scientist, PhD-student and epidemiologist in the department of Neonatology in OLVG, a large teaching hospital in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her interests are within human development and neonatal care. She studies the impact of family integrated care on preterm infants and their parents, and has set up several studies and trials into this field of research.


She works together with all stakeholders in neonatal care, including (veteran) parents an a multidisciplinary healthcare professional team, who are active contributors to her research. In the department of Neonatology she set up a family integrated care program for parents, nurses and physicians.

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