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Community Generosity Spills Over, Helping Babies in Belize

Thursday, February 07, 2008

We've been able to replace so many incubators that older models were literally being shoved out.

Early this afternoon, Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong will partner with InterVol, a community organization bridging local hospitals with those in other countries, to send at least 10 newborn incubators to Belize, where they’ll help the country’s most fragile babies fight for their lives.

The donation is possible thanks to the arrival of more than a dozen new incubators to the children’s hospital’s NICU over the course of last year – the biggest investment in equipment the unit has seen in 15 years. Some new beds are standard replacement equipment, which has been sorely needed, but many are top-of-the-line incubators. What’s more, the hospital credits the generous Rochester community for part of the “fleet” – some of the beds came as direct gifts from groups or individuals, or from money raised at NICU benefits.

“We’ve been able to replace so many incubators that older models were literally being shoved out,” said Kevin Smith, R.N., a nurse manager in the NICU. “And what an inspiring idea this is, to now tell our supporters that when they help our children’s hospital NICU, they not only help bring unsurpassed medical care to kids locally – the blessing runs over the brim, aiding newborns internationally.”

The timing could not be more perfect; Smith said that, though the equipment may be beyond its useful life at Strong, it’s still serviceable in developing nations.

At 52-beds, the NICU is the children’s hospital’s largest, busiest inpatient unit. It consistently operates at or slightly above capacity (thanks to swing space available in the neighboring newborn nursery). Last year alone, its staff cared for more than 1,170 newborns – more than 200 of them transported from regional hospitals.

With the new incubators, more local babies can access specialized models that are optimally designed to support their developmental and medical needs. Some new models even have built-in scales, warm-air curtains, Lazy Susan-style swivel mattresses and more access port-holes, eliminating unnecessary disturbance to babies while administering care.

According to Ralph Pennino, M.D., InterVol’s founder and CEO, the NICU routinely coordinates with InterVol to arrange pick-ups of small items, such as unused diapers that may have been sitting out a bit, but are clean (if a touch dusty), or perhaps stuffed animals or baby caps if NICU families and friends leave extras behind.

But this incubator donation is the largest yet from the children’s hospital’s NICU. It’s also a good example of InterVol’s recovery program – Recovery of Unused Medical Supplies, or RUMS, which saves medical materials and equipment that would otherwise be destroyed or placed in area landfills.

“For more than 10 years, we’ve been working in Rochester to send medical equipment overseas – particularly, pieces that are outdated by American standards but still ahead of the technology curve elsewhere,” Pennino said. “It’s environmentally correct and charitable, but it doesn’t work well without help from local hospitals – and of course, the folks who support them.”

Help us help kids

If you’re interested in supporting the NICU at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong – benefiting local newborns, plus encouraging a ripple-effect of international generosity – consider attending the upcoming fundraisers:

  • On Saturday, Feb. 9, a NICU benefit at J.B. Quimby’s honors NICU graduate Mason Mitchell; funds raised will help renovate the NICU’s family room.
  • On Saturday, March 8, the 2nd annual Evening of Wine and Wishes will be held at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
  • Also on March 8, the 6th annual Taylor Brush Memorial Dinner Dance takes place at the River’s Edge Restaurant & Party House.

For more information on any of these benefits, visit or call (585) 274-5948.

To learn more about InterVol, visit

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(585) 275-3676

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