Rotarians Touch Lives with NICVIEW Cameras!

Imagine the power of the Internet 
to connect a newborn baby
with family 
anywhere in the world. 
Ten clubs from Rotary District 7910 have combined efforts to purchase 30 small webcam video cameras which are mounted on baby cribs in the neonatal intensive care unit at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center in Worcester. Called NICVIEW, the cameras allow parents, siblings, and extended family to view the newborn 24/7, from any location where Internet is available, through a secure connection from their home, computer, or phone.
Recently a Chinese mother visiting in the Worcester area gave birth to twins while her husband was traveling in Utah and the rest of her family was in China. The father in Utah and the family in China were able to view the twins in the critical care unit thanks to one of the 30 NICVIEW cameras purchased by the Rotarians and local businesses.
“This project is a wonderful way to have a global reach by doing a project that is for the local community,” says Roy Balfour, District Foundation Chair and the person responsible for connecting the Rotary Club of Worcester with Dr. Alan Picarillo, assistant professor of pediatrics at UMass Memorial Medical Center. It can be an emotional time for families when their newborns develop problems requiring them to be placed in the intensive care unit.
The cameras offer comfort to families who can bond with their baby. So far, extended family in all but three states, ten countries and five continents have benefited from seeing a newborn because of a NICVIEW camera. Each camera costs $1200, but there is no cost to the families. The infants stay in the critical care unit an average of three weeks.
“Before doing this project, we followed a simple Rotary principle,” Balfour explains. “By doing a community assessment we identified a need that both the local community and Rotarians care about. This is a good way to engage Rotarians in something that we all see value in. It makes public relations easier because it creates stories the community cares about. It makes Rotarians proud and gives them a story to share with others, thereby creating interest in people who might want to join Rotary because of the work we do.”
There has also been support from local businesses which have purchased cameras: Southbridge Savings Bank, United Lens, Webster 5 Bank, The Guru Tax & Financial Services, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Southbridge Savings Bank made a generous donation in support of NICVIEW and posted photos to Facebook which so far have generated 164 likes and stories from customers.
The NICVIEW project is short nine cameras from a goal of purchasing one camera for each of the 49 cribs in the neonatal unit. When the project started there were only six cameras. The Rotary Clubs of Worcester, Shrewsbury, Southbridge, Uxbridge, and Wachusett applied for a matching grant from The Rotary Foundation to assist in the purchase of the cameras. Other participating clubs include the Rotary Club of Marlborough and their Rotaract group, Westborough, Montachusett, and Sturbridge.
By Ingrid Detweiler