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NICF funds major equipment boost for hospital

Sale Hospital’s special care nursery now has a Resuscitaire, a device to help care for ill babies, thanks to the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation (NICF).

Sale man Peter Cursley founded the NICF, which donated the latest piece of equipment.

“You have a very sick baby, a very sick baby,” is all Mr Cursley remembers hearing as a nurse at Canberra Hospital tried to resuscitate his newborn daughter, Hannah, in 1993.

His partner Susan had reached full-term pregnancy and was nearing delivery when fate intervened.

“We were waiting for the moment to go off to the hospital; Susan went and had a shower,” Mr Cursley said.

“She collapsed, I heard her scream, I raced her down to the hospital, and Hannah, our little daughter, was born blue,” he said.

Staff at Canberra Hospital revived little Hannah, but she wouldn’t live more than 24 hours.

“She died in our arms at one o’clock in the morning,” Mr Cursley said.

Hannah Cursley was born November 18, 1993, and died November 19, 1993.

She was cradled in her mother and father’s warm, loving arms at that time, coming up to 30 years.

Peter and Susan Cursley endured excruciating heartbreak, but through the pain, the loss and the grief, they deeply appreciated support from medical staff at Canberra Hospital.

“In honour of the staff and in honour of Hannah, we decided to start a foundation (NICF),” Mr Cursley explained.

“There are three things we do: funding high-tech medical equipment, nurse education and funding of research.”

Before setting any plans for NICF in motion, Peter and Susan and their firstborn daughter Megan took a family trip to Bali, Indonesia, in an effort to move forward with their lives.

Returning home from their holiday, just months after the death of Hannah, Susan was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

In August 1995, at the age of 26, Susan died, leaving behind a grieving widow and four-year-old daughter.

Following Susan’s death, Peter devoted himself to NICF, fulfilling a promise he made with his wife during anguished moments in November 1993.

In 1995, former ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell officially launched the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation, which has since raised millions of dollars to help critically-ill newborn babies lead healthy, normal lives.

Since moving to Sale in July 2019, Peter has raised more than $70,000 for the Sale Hospital through NICF, which has provided the special care nursery lactation aids for nursing mums, cot nests, leather electric nursing chairs and a special phototherapy blanket to treat babies with jaundice, known as a Biliblanket.

“Things like the Biliblanket are great for the region”, Mr Cursley said, “normally, they’re treated with big lights; the Biliblanket treats the baby the same, but while it’s being treated, the mum can nurse it.

“The other benefit with the Biliblanket is they can go in ambulances, so they are great for places like Sale Hospital where they might be going to Maffra to pick up a baby, or wherever else.”

A Resuscitaire combines a warming therapy platform with components needed for clinical emergencies and resuscitation.

“It’s like a humidicrib with resuscitation equipment on it, so if a baby is born not breathing, then the equipment is all there, ready to go,” Mr Cursley said.

The NCIF’s most recent contribution to Sale Hospital’s special care nursery is a Resuscitaire.

A Resuscitaire combines a warming therapy platform with components needed for clinical emergencies and resuscitation.

“It’s like a humidicrib with resuscitation equipment on it, so if a baby is born not breathing, then the equipment is all there, ready to go,” Mr Cursley said.

This year’s NICF ‘Bake for Babies’ annual fundraiser, which received a generous donation from local baker Tamara Hall, contributed to the funds raised to buy the Resuscitaire.

Bake For Babies, which officially begins on June 1 and concludes on August 31, has twice been hosted in Gippsland since launching in Canberra in 2017.

Mr Cursley said it was a simple concept.

“People can bake whatever they like – a cake, scones, brownies, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, biscuits, a slice or maybe charge friends for a seat at a table of a baked dinner,” he said.

“We want people to have fun baking, maybe involving their kids, and then sell their baked creations at a price they think appropriate and donate the profits to the NICF,” he said.

Bake for Babies and the NICF are helping the community and have attracted praise from Central Gippsland Health women’s and children’s nurse unit manager, Kim Costin.

“The women’s and children’s unit staff joined the event, baking and selling goods to visitors and staff,” she said.

“Recent monies raised from Bake for Babies contributed to the purchase of a new neonatal Resuscitaire; the need for resuscitation of a newborn cannot always be anticipated.

“At every birth, the team must be prepared to resuscitate a newborn,” said Ms Costin, herself a nurse.

“The additional new Resuscitaire is situated in one of our birthing rooms.

“Staff will now have access to a Resuscitaire in all three birthing suites, our special care nursery, and the hospital’s operating rooms; the similarity of equipment across all these departments will support the provision of optimal care in those vital first minutes of life,” she said.

“Staff in the women’s and children’s unit are grateful for the hard work of Peter Cursley and the NICF for their generous support over the past few years,” Ms Costin said.

“Previous equipment provided through the NICF are all regularly used in caring for unwell babies and their families.”

The NICF has organised two new fundraisers – Bubbles for Babies and Balbals for Babies – to continue raising funds to help sick newborns in east and central Gippsland.

Information about the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation, Bake for Babies, Bubbles for Babies or Balbals for Babies can be found at the website:

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