Dr. Sandy Moniz with book
Dr. Sandy Moniz, a clinical psychologist with UHN Altum Health, says her book, Jacob’s Journey, about her son who was born at just 25 weeks, was written as both an inspiration and a resource for families in a similar situation. (Photo: Courtesy Sandy Moniz)

Clinical practice and personal experience forever intertwined one momentous day for Dr. Sandy Moniz. Though she did not know it, those 24 hours would mark the beginning of a rollercoaster ride.

Rewind six months. Sandy was celebrating. She was pregnant with her second child. Not only that, but she had a new job offer as UHN Altum Health's newest clinical psychologist.

Weeks later, a visit to the hospital put everything on hold.

Jacob Marvel Moniz Savoy was born at just 25 weeks.

"I was terrified he was going to die," recalls Sandy on how she felt leading up to and after giving birth.

Jacob's original due date was not until Thanksgiving. Instead, Sandy and her husband Bryan spent that June and the weeks to follow at McMaster Children's Hospital as Jacob received intensive care.

This story has a happy conclusion, but it took four months to arrive. That was the amount of time Sandy spent waiting to hear the words: Jacob could go home.

Jacob's Journey

Sandy and her family worked hard to overcome many challenges during and after Jacob's hospital stay.

"I had to call in sick on my first day of work at Altum Health," Sandy says, "but (my colleagues said) they would allow me to start whenever I was medically cleared.

"I could not imagine a more supportive team and I didn't even start work yet!"

Sandy had provided compassionate care to patients for her entire career, but now she was the recipient.

"My time at Altum has been filled with genuine and compassionate people who sincerely care for the well-being of others," she says."I was happy to join that team (as soon as Jacob was home safely) to help others in their journey." 

When Sandy returned to work, she had found a new source of inspiration to help survivors of trauma gain hope as well as awareness of their own resilience and strength.

Coupling inspiration with the fact that she could not find supportive literature about their situation, Sandy decided to write a book. It would draw upon her expertise as a psychologist, and her experiences as a healthcare worker, a colleague, and most of all, a mother.

In December of 2019, she published Jacob's Journey: The Boy Born Early, which chronicles the premature birth of her son and the obstacles they faced and overcame as a family.

"What may seem scary to many becomes a heartwarming story," she says. "It's perfect for families looking for hope and triumph in trying times."

Recognizing Psychology Month

February is Psychology Month in Canada. It's an opportunity to show Canadians how psychology works to help people live healthy and happy lives, in their communities, workplaces and at home.

Psychologists, such as Sandy, Psychological Associates, and Psychometrists provide clinical service, research and teaching across UHN for many aspects of the patient journey within and beyond the hospital. Read about the wide range of mental health services available through UHN.

Working within interprofessional teams, these professionals detect and overcome barriers to successful medical or surgical treatment; identify and provide interventions for cognitive deficits associated with brain injury or disorders; and help individuals learn tools to overcome debilitating challenges with mood, pain, and anxiety.

Altum Health has experienced clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and other registered healthcare professionals who are available for assessment and treatment of common conditions such as stress, trauma, depression, anxiety, loss and grief, as well as pain conditions and concussion-related emotional and psychological symptoms. Visit the Mental Health services webpage, or get in touch directly with Altum through the online contact form.

For more information about Jacob's Journey: The Boy Born Early, visit the official Facebook page or email Sandy Moniz directly at drsandymoniz@gmail.com.


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