Community raises funds to help hospital in the Rockaways buy a lifesaving incubator for premature babies

Giraffe Incubator
Photo courtesy of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

Premature babies born at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital (SJEH) in the Rockaways will now have access to a state-of-the-art piece of equipment to help them thrive.

The hospital announced that it would be purchasing a new Giraffe Incubator Carestation with the help of generous donor contributions. The apparatus provides newborns with calm and caring surroundings and helps to monitor, assess and treat neonates in their own environment.

According to Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Donald Morrish, MD, the use of the incubator cuts down on “unnecessary” handling of premature babies while giving parents and other family access to the babies in order to form important bonds. 

Efforts to raise money for the Giraffe Incubator began last year when the hospital implemented the first-ever Giving Tuesday campaign. Often stylized as #GivingTuesday, it refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving and marks a day of global, charitable giving.

They set a goal to raise $16,000 to purchase the lifesaving equipment on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Donors gave a total of $2,287 that day, which served as the starting point for additional support.

In January 2019, hospital board member Daniel Kasle continued the fundraising efforts by suggesting SJEH receive the money raised from his employer’s monthly Demin Day. The Church Pension Group (CPG) staff raised over $700, Kasle contributed $760 and the organization contributed more funds for a grand total of $3,025.

SJEH now had a little over $10,000 to raise to meet its goal and approached Angels on the Bay, a local nonprofit that supports programs and facilities providing health care services to children. The hospital submitted a proposal, which the organization’s board of directors approved. Angels on the Bay officially awarded the hospital with the grant on Oct. 15.

“To get the ball rolling, we went to place the order for the incubator. That is when we realized the total price was actually $20,000 with all the additional pieces of equipment needed to support it,” said Nancy Leghart, director of foundation. Thankfully, that same week, a generous unrestricted donation came in from Neponsit resident Marvin Eisenstadt.”

Leghart explained that Eisenstadt was a premature baby and was also the sole survivor of a set of twins. The donor shared that a hospital in Coney Island had the only incubator that saved his life.

“When we told him about how we would like to use his gift, he was touched, and with good reason,” said Leghart. “He said that if it were not for an incubator, he would not be alive today.”

“We are so grateful to everyone for their generous support and ongoing commitment to St. John’s. This equipment will raise the level of quality care so we can continue to effectively care for the newest members of our community,” said Morrish.

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