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An innovative webcam system called NICView at John Hunter Children’s Hospital is helping families connect with new born babies in care, thanks to a grant of $186,000.

Monday, August 14, 2017 

There could be few experiences more challenging for a family than leaving their newborn child in intensive care after the elation of meeting them for the first time. For many families, the comfort of knowing their newborn baby is safe in the care of John Hunter Children’s Hospital comes with the anguish of separation. 

Thanks to a new and innovative webcam system called NICView, families can now watch their newborn children in John Hunter’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at any time of day or night. Director of Newborn Services at John Hunter Children’s Hospital Dr Paul Craven said the new system could help families bond with their child and relieve the anxiety and stress caused by separation. It has been made possible by a grant of $186,000 from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.

Dr Craven said separation from newborns often caused distress for new parents and families, in cases like those where the mother and infant had been transported from a remote or regional area. 

"We’re excited to bring our NICU families closer together with this system," he said. "We know that one of the hardest parts of a  premature birth experience can actually be the family separation from their new baby, particularly for those from remote areas. 

"Following the redevelopment of the NICU last year, we’re grateful that the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club sought and received the grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to make the NICView system possible for us."

"More than 1200 families rely on the state-of-the-art NICU services at John Hunter Children’s Hospital each year as the specialist world-class facility serves most of northern NSW, taking in referrals from as far as the New England and Northern NSW regions."

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chairman Phil Neat

New parents Paul and Leanne showing an image of new born baby Lily Towill via NICView.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chairman, Phil Neat, said the NICView project provided an important link with regional communities.  

"More than 1200 families rely on the state-of-the-art NICU services at John Hunter Children’s Hospital each year as the specialist world-class facility serves most of northern NSW, taking in referrals from as far as the New England and Northern NSW regions," Mr Neat said.

"It fulfills the Foundation’s ideals so perfectly as the scale of the grant allows the project to extend into our regional communities and make a significant difference, not just reducing stress at a difficult time but also bringing joy in connecting families and enhancing the first bonds between parent and baby."

Each NICView camera system is mounted on a moveable arm that allows for best positioning near the crib without impeding staff. The vision is accessible by families through a secure, password protected login to internet connection to any computer, tablet, phone or similar device. 

The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation distributes more than $1.5 million annually to local not-for-profit organisations in the Hunter, New England, Central West, Central Coast, Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast. Since it was established in 2003 it has distributed more than $16.7 million in grants to over 400 charitable organisations in regional NSW.

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