Today members of the Western New York State Legislative Delegation announced that they have secured $84,000 in the 2005-06 New York State budget for Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to purchase a state-of-the-art pediatric retinal imaging system. The RetCamII, as it is called, will assist in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases and conditions in babies and older children. It is also expected to supply crucial evidence to aid in the prosecution of “shaken baby” child abuse cases.
Physicians in hospitals elsewhere that already use the digital imaging system credit it with giving them clearer, more comprehensive views of the retina that, for example, improve their ability to screen premature infants for retinopathy and to detect tumors that would have been missed using older equipment. It also aids in the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, and its clear, wide-field images can provide legal documentation for prosecuting child abuse cases. In fact, the request for state funding to assist in the acquisition of the RetCamII was first brought to the legislators’ attention when the delegation was contacted by Niagara County District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger said, “When Matt Murphy first contacted me last November for advice on finding funding for a RetCamII, he had just finished working on a homicide trial involving shaken baby syndrome and expressed his concern that while other parts of the country had access to such equipment, we in Western New York did not. I am now pleased that, working together in a two-county, bipartisan effort, our delegation has been able to secure the state funding that will move this state-of-the-art technology from the ‘wish list’ to a purchase order. It’s going to make a very real difference in the lives of the children who will benefit.”
“The acquisition of the RetCamII will play a pivotal role in the delivery of health care for our young people, as well as assist prosecutors by securing evidence of potential child abuse situations,” said Senator Dale M. Volker. “This cutting-edge medical equipment will allow physicians to quickly address any abnormality and promptly administer treatment. This is a tremendous win for our children, our law enforcement and our region. The Western New York legislative delegation continues to work together in securing state resources to improve the lives of our residents, and I am pleased to have worked with our delegation members to secure these funds.”
“This is a great example of how new technology can improve people’s lives,” said Senator George D. Maziarz. “The sooner these vision-threatening conditions are detected in children, the sooner they can be addressed – and the benefits can last for a lifetime.”
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt said, “As the leading advocate for shaken baby syndrome awareness, I am proud that the Western New York delegation has recognized the importance of funding the RetCam. This important medical advancement for detecting retinal hemorrhages in infants will help doctors identify victims of child abuse due to violent shaking and be better equipped to treat and document these cases.”
“The RetCamII is a state-of-the-art solution to a serious problem,” Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte said. “While it is a valuable piece of equipment with a multitude of uses, it will play a major role in assisting law enforcement and prosecutors investigating cases involving shaken baby syndrome.”
District Attorney Murphy said, “Much praise is due to our entire Western New York legislative delegation. I am so pleased that the delegation responded to the needs of the abused children of our area. The RetCam acquired under this grant will help supply district attorneys with valuable evidence in one of the most difficult cases we are called upon to prosecute: shaken baby homicides.”
"Securing funding for this important piece of equipment is another example of how the Western New York State legislative delegation has improved the quality of healthcare here," said William D. McGuire, chief executive officer of Kaleida Health. "We applaud their efforts and thank them on behalf of the many children who will benefit from this specialized technology and care."
State Senator Mary Lou Rath, Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples, and Assemblyman Mark Schroeder also helped to secure the funding.