Fundraising to help local premature babies

Liz Bell

A NOT-for-profit group which supports the care of newborns is hoping to garner community support to raise money to help sick and premature babies born at Sale Hospital.

The Newborn Intensive Care Foundation is a charity that raises money for medical equipment, research and nurse education to help give critically ill newborns the best chance to lead healthy, normal lives.

Former Canberra resident and newcomer to Sale, foundation chairman Peter Cursley, said the foundation began 26 years ago after he and his late wife Susan went through the harrowing experience of losing a newborn in 1993.

Mr Cursley wanted a way of saying thank you to the dedicated medical and nursing staff at Canberra Hospital for the support the young couple was given through difficult times.

“The foundation was started to give back to the hospital and the medical community, and because of the fabulous support we received,” he said.

“Our first donation was a few recliners for nursing mothers, followed by some extra breast pumps the foundation bought so new mums didn’t need to queue to express milk.

“It has just snowballed from when we started 26 years ago.”

Since then, the foundation has raised about $6 million in cash and kind for non-essential hospital equipment and staff training that enhances the care delivered to newborns in and around Canberra and New South Wales.

Purchases have extended to state-of-the-art medical equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, with some of the purchases enabling babies with particular conditions to be treated locally, rather than being transferred to Sydney.

“Having babies closer to their families is important as they make the progression from intensive care to going home,” he said.

“We don’t try to do the work of the governments who should fund essential equipment, but we do fundraise for things that make life easier for parents and babies, and staff.”

Now settled in his new home of Gippsland, Mr Cursely has his sights set on replicating that support locally.

His first mission is to raise around $11,000 to buy an i-STAT monitor for the Sale Hospital’s special care unit, which would enable staff to carry out point-of-care blood analysis and begin immediate clinical treatment.

“When I first came to Sale, I had a meeting with staff in the maternity unit and they said an i-STAT monitor was what they needed, so that’s what we’ll fundraise for,” he said.

Mr Cursley said his own experience with a sick baby and listening to other parents had shown him that money spent on improving the early minutes of birth “pays infinite dividends” in health outcomes.

He said the volunteer-run foundation’s philosophy was that any money raised in the region “stays in the region”, meaning that 100 per cent of local fundraising is used for purchases for local health services.

Any organisations or individuals wanting to help fundraise for an iSTAT monitor should email info@, or phone Peter Cursley on 0414 446 662.