Being apart from your newborn while he or she is cared for the in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be heart-wrenching. To make the separation a little bit easier, The Valley Hospital’s NICU has introduced an innovative system that allows parents and extended family members to conduct “virtual visits” with their little ones via webcam.
“We recognize how stressful it is for parents and other family members to have a hospitalized infant under any circumstance,” said, Carmela Pane’, M.D., Director of Neonatology at Valley. “To be able to log on to the computer and watch their baby has really been wonderful for parents who cannot be with their baby as much as they would like. And it underscores our goal of providing the highest level of patient- and family-centered care.”
The technology, called NicView™, allows parents, family and friends to view their infant in real-time through a secure online portal. NicView can add peace of mind, provide reassurance, and help strengthen the bond between parents and their preemies or hospitalized infants when parents can’t be at the bedside.
Joe and Venessa Perkins, of Ringwood, rely on the NicView system when they can’t be in the NICU with their daughter Kennedy Rose, who was born on March 17. It allows them to “visit” with Kennedy from their smartphones or laptops at any time of the day or night. “It’s like a long-distance baby monitor,” said Joe.
Joe and Venessa have shared the log-in information with Kennedy’s grandparents and other extended family members and friends, allowing them to get to know Kennedy and follow her progress while she is being cared for in the NICU.
“It’s wonderful to be able to check in on Kennedy when we can’t be there,” said Venessa. “It makes the separation easier to deal with.”
The camera delivers a secure image stream for parents and family members to view their babies remotely. NicView can be accessed from anywhere an internet connection is available via a laptop, smartphone or tablet. The service is compatible with any internet-capable device and most popular browsers.
The password-protected system uses 20 individually installed NicView cameras mounted by each baby’s bed. NICU staff has been trained on the use of the system and has the option of turning off the camera when needed.
For security and safety, none of the images are recorded or stored, and only the infant’s parents are given unique usernames and passwords to access the live stream video of their babies on their cell phones, tablets, laptops and/or desktop computers. The parents, in turn, may share access with family members near or far.
“Many parents have outside obligations, such as work, or caring for other small children at home, that pull them away from the NICU,” said Susan Apple, Manager of Patient Care Services at Valley. “But having the option to make a ‘virtual visit’ to the child’s bedside at any time eases the family’s concerns and enables them to bond with their newborn.”
Caption #1: Joe and Venessa Perkins, of Ringwood, rely on the NicView system when they can’t be in the NICU with their daughter Kennedy Rose.
Caption #2: NICU nurse Fanny Clave adjusts the camera at Kennedy Rose Perkin’s bedside.