Groundbreaking iPad scheme introduced at hospital

Couple Stephen Rooney and Felicity Simper with their daughter Chloe Rooney Picture: MY WISH CHARITY

Couple Stephen Rooney and Felicity Simper with their daughter Chloe Rooney Picture: MY WISH CHARITY - Credit: Archant

A groundbreaking initiative to allow mothers to see their newborn babies at times when they have to be separated has been launched at West Suffolk Hospital.

A number of iPads have been introduced on the neonatal ward and it is believed the Bury St Edmunds hospital is one of the first in the country to make use of the devices.

The iPads were bought following a collection at the christening of Chloe Rooney, and the funds were donated to the My WiSH Charity, which supports the hospital.

The devices are set to Facetime mode and one is placed close to the baby and the other to the mother so she can monitor her newborn child.

Chloe, who will be two-years-old at the end of April, contracted sepsis from her mother Felicity Simper, BBC Look East journalist and presenter, who developed the condition when she went into labour.

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For the first two weeks, mother and baby were on the neonatal unit after Chloe developed an infection, which meant spending some time apart.

The treatment she received by staff at the hospital prompted Miss Simper, 39, and 42-year-old fiancé Steven Rooney to raise the money for the iPads.

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The couple, who live in Westhorpe, near Walsham-le-Willows, held the christening at St Margaret’s Church in the village followed by a reception at the village hall.

Miss Simper said: “When we raised the money we asked the charity what they needed to help parents become more connected to their babies on the ward and I think that it’s a great idea to get the iPads.

“The ward seemed really pleased with it as it allows parents who are not able to spend time with their babies to see what they are up to.

“It’s a really good idea to have them on the ward and it makes sense as it would have helped me when I was in hospital and it’s a good idea of how to use the money we raised.”

Karen Ranson, ward manager, said the hospital has received fantastic feedback from parents using them.

“It’s a great innovative idea so that the mother can watch the baby all of the time while she is away from the ward and can see the baby being changed and fed,” she said.

“Anything that you can do to minimise the separation of the two is really good.

“And we think we are the first hospital in the country to use these devices in this way as I have not heard of this system being used elsewhere.

“We use it also for dads when the mother is in intensive care.”

Sue Smith, the head of fundraising for My WiSH Charity, said: “When the idea of the iPad system was discussed we thought this is a wonderful and innovative idea to help reduce anxiety of any parent being away from their precious newborn baby at such a vulnerable time.

“Imagine that you have just had your baby and it is whisked away from you due to being unwell, well now mother, father and baby can stay in contact via the iPad system.

“If mum is on intensive care or on the ward she will be able to watch her newborn baby. It’s not at all like having them by your side, but it’s the next best thing.

“We cannot thank Felicity, Stephen and baby Chloe enough, what a beautiful gift to be able to give to others.”

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