Minister for Health The Hon. Jenny Mikakos (middle) with Safer Care Victoria Manager, Innovation Projects Camilla Radia-George (left) and The Royal Women’s Hospital CEO Dr Sue Matthews (right)

Minister for Health The Hon. Jenny Mikakos (middle) with Safer Care Victoria Manager, Innovation Projects Camilla Radia-George (left) and The Royal Women’s Hospital CEO Dr Sue Matthews (right).

A program first discovered through the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund is helping jaundiced newborns to be cared for at home, and allowing parents to bond with their babies so they can have the best start to life.

On 6 November 2019, Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos visited The Royal Women's Hospital to celebrate the success of the pioneering screening program, made possible by $434,600 from the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund administered by Safer Care Victoria.

First launched in 2017, the innovative program is delivering better, more efficient care for babies with jaundice and their parents by expanding existing home visit services.

Two new initiatives were implemented as part of the program. The first meant The Royal Women's Hospital midwives could administer blood tests to screen for jaundice in the home.

The second allowed midwives to provide treatment in the home with phototherapy blankets, which help to break down the blood substance that causes jaundice.

Prior to the project, these babies were referred to emergency, and if treatment was required, mothers and babies would be admitted as inpatients.

An estimated 562 fewer babies presented to The Royal Women's Hospital emergency for jaundice between December 2017 and January 2019 - relieving pressure on busy emergency department doctors and nurses.

The average number of babies presenting with jaundice at the hospital fell from 82 to 39 babies per month.

The program also reduced costs and time parents and their babies spent travelling in and out of the hospital and waiting for results, which is disruptive to families in the early post-natal period.

Minister Mikakos said, "Jaundice in newborns is distressing and disruptive to new parents and bubs. This ground-breaking program means less time wasted in and out of hospital, so that new families can focus on settling in at home."

Since 2016, the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund has delivered $11.2 million to 37 projects that draw on our best and brightest clinical minds to find new, more effective ways to treat more hospital patients, sooner.

Projects are driving innovation and efficiency and improving patient care and treatment by sharing and embedding new ideas across the health system.

"We're investing in innovative projects like this one that improve care and peace of mind across our health services," commented Minister Mikakos.

Read more about the 'Management and care of the jaundiced newborn at home' project.