A local charity event this month will raise vital funds for an internet-based initiative with webcam technology that will enable parents to be at the ‘virtual’ bedside of their seriously ill newborns admitted to the Canberra Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Tennis legends John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur will lend their star power to the Maxim Invitational Tennis Charity event at the Canberra Tennis Centre on Thursday 11 February 2016 to raise money for the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation that will support this innovative service. Canberra businesses are welcome to enter or sponsor a team for $4,000; the closing date for entries is Thursday 4 February 2016.

Each year, up to 700 infants are admitted to the hospital’s NICU and Special Care Nursery (SCN) for highly specialised care or support. The NICU offers 20 beds for babies with life threatening problems, such as an extremely low birth weight. The SCN has 14 beds for the babies who are learning to feed and preparing for discharge.

Newborn Intensive Care Foundation Chairman and 2016 ACT Local Hero, Peter Cursley, said that parents’ separation from and concern for their babies when they are admitted to the NICU or SCN can lead to significant anxiety and stress. “While the staff strongly encourage parents to visit as often as possible and to be actively involved in their baby’s daily care, this is not possible for all parents, especially for parents with premie babies who may be in the NICU for many weeks” Mr Cursley said.

In 2009, the Canberra Hospital launched an internet-based service with webcam technology, called NICUCAM, for parents of babies admitted to the SCN—the first of its kind in Australia. NICUCAM enables parents who are unable to visit the SCN to view their babies remotely via live video streaming on a secure website.

“NICUCAM has proven to significantly reduce parents’ stress and separation anxiety. We would like to extend this service into the NICU, which would cost approximately $70,000 to provide 20 new cameras and some necessary software upgrades. We greatly appreciate the generous support that the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation will receive through the Maxim Invitational Tennis Charity event in 2016.”

Mark Peatey, Maxim Chartered Accountants Partner and founder of the Maxim Invitational, said that the annual event had raised more than $500,000 over five years for charities including The Starlight Foundation, TADACT and Kulture Break. “It is a great pleasure for our practice to be associated with the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation and to support this fantastic cause through the 2016 Maxim Invitational,” Mr Peatey said.

Mr Cursley said that the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation also welcomes other donations from the community to support the NICUCAM project. “All donations to the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation over $2 are tax deductible,” Mr Cursley said. “You can be assured that 100% of your donation is going to help sick newborns in the Canberra region.

Celebrity ambassadors: John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur

When: Thursday 11 February 2016 (12pm start)

Where: Canberra Tennis Centre, 1 Riggall Place, Lyneham

Team entry: $4000 to sign up or sponsor a team (closing date for entries is 4 February 2016)

Contact: Kath Milin, Maxim Chartered Accountants, 0404 014 808, kjm@maximca.com.au