J.P. Bickell Foundation Microsite | Children's Health Foundation

Supplementary Information for the J.P. Bickell Foundation


In 2021, the J.P. Bickell Foundation generously granted $63,000 towards a Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario.  We were so very grateful – the POCUS has been a critical addition to the NICU’s fleet.  

Portable to the bedside, it provides our neonatologists with a “window” into a baby’s organs, such as the brain, lungs, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys, without risk of radiation, at any time of the day or night.    The information that can be gleaned from this equipment has been contributing to life-saving decisions about care.  

You can download the stewardship report we sent to you in September for more information on the impact of your support.


The J.P. Bickell Foundation’s valued support of our NICU, totalling $132,000, has been helping to equip our team since 2013 when $15,000 was granted to contribute towards the cost of a Giraffe Omnibed.  Since then, three other grants have been made for syringe pumps, ventilators and in 2021 the POCUS.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit a new request.

We are respectfully asking for support of another Giraffe Omnibed, needed to meet the growing patient load, but this time requesting your consideration of the full cost of $66,000.

The NICU at Children’s – Growing to Meet the Need

Our Children’s Hospital is the third largest children’s hospital in Canada and has one of the busiest Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in the country.  We serve a vast geographical region that spans west from London to Windsor, east to Kitchener/Waterloo and as far north as Thunder Bay.  

Our NICU is caring for a growing number of infants, with 1013 premature and critically ill patients supported last year alone, and it is now a 55 bed Unit.

These fragile infants often need specialized care for a whole host of complications. They may spend weeks or even months in hospital. State-of-the-art equipment is critical to their care. Children’s Hospital relies on donor support to be able to purchase 90 to 100 percent of its medical equipment. 

Giraffe Omnibeds – One of the “Workhorses” of the NICU

Giraffe Omnibed

Premature babies have come into the world too soon, and every effort is made in the NICU to replicate the mother’s womb as much as possible.  NICU babies need a life-enhancing, warm and comfortable environment to support optimal development.   

A Giraffe Omnibed is an advanced, developmentally-supportive “microenvironment” that is designed to promote the growth and stability of fragile newborns in the NICU. The Omnibed incorporates an incubator and a radiant warmer into one single unit, reducing the need for babies to be transferred from one bed to another.  

The incubator enables caregivers to control all aspects of the baby’s environment including heat, humidity, oxygen, light, and noise level.  Some of these babies are born as early as 24 weeks and can spend up to two or three months in an incubator before they are ready to go home with their families.  

The infants in the NICU are extremely sensitive to external disruptions, and the slightest change in their environment can create detrimental stress. The Giraffes are essential to helping the babies conserve every ounce of energy. They not only keep the environment consistent, but they include a “Baby Susan” that rotates 360 degrees and moves up and down, allowing access without having to stress the baby.  

Thermoregulation - Giraffee Omnibed

The Giraffe Omnibed is designed to keep all drafts away from the baby, and the radiant warmer keeps the body temperature of the child consistent.  Hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) is a common problem for premature babies because of low body fat, a neurological system that is not fully developed, their fragile skin and poor metabolism.  

A premature baby’s response to decreasing body temperature can be very serious including a slowing heart rate, dropping blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias and even possibly death. Weight gain increases the infant’s body fat, and this holds the heat from escaping from the baby’s body. The incubator has a built-in scale so that infants don’t have to be exposed to a colder environment to be weighed. The system can be adjusted manually or automatically so that the incubator itself adjusts the temperature to keep the baby’s temperature at the desired level.  The warmer is also designed to focus the temperature on the baby and not affect the caregiver’s temperature. This helps all parties involved in the care of the baby to feel comfortable.  

A length of a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks.  Giraffes are needed for any baby whose gestational age (how far along the pregnancy is) is less than 32 weeks (for thermoregulation, humidity, daily weights) and sick babies of any gestational age, who need easy access for care, assisted ventilation and procedures (line placement, surgery).  Hence, the Giraffes are often thought of as one of the “workhorses” of the NICU – essential to care for so many fragile patients.  

Although these infants require a warm, dark and tranquil environment and to be moved and touched as little as possible, they also need to start bonding with family members.  The baby needs to sense that mom or dad are nearby.  In addition, parents, of course, want to be close to their child.  Parents love the Giraffe Omnibeds as they can get close to the baby when the lid is lifted up while the baby’s temperature is controlled by the heating unit. They can then participate in talking to them, singing, mouth care, diaper changes, etc.

Advantages of the Newest Model of Giraffes

The current model of Giraffes are made with improved computerized regulation systems to mimic the mother’s womb even more than before, which results in better maintenance of a baby’s temperature and humidity requirements. The unit has a feedback system using probes to constantly check the baby’s temperature and regulate accordingly.

The more Giraffe Omnibeds we have in our unit, the less we will have to take an Omnibed away from an infant in order to “give it” to another baby that is more sick and unstable. This is upsetting to parents, and it is unnecessary movement and stress for a premature infant.

Please see this video which shares the experience of a NICU family:

We are sincerely grateful for your consideration of this request.  Your support would enable our NICU Team to add a much-needed Giraffe Omnibed to their fleet, allowing them to provide the best care possible for their patients. 

If our request is granted, we would be pleased to work with you to recognize your support in a way that would be meaningful to you.

For more information, please contact:

Penny Harman

Senior Philanthropy Officer

Children’s Health Foundation



Senior Philanthropy Officer

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