Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Parents Connect to NICU

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas is the first hospital in their region to offer an audio-video system that lets parents who can’t be at their child’s bedside see and talk to their baby anytime of the day from any computer. The web-based system also lets parents see their babies from any smartphone.

The “Peek-a-Boo Neonatal ICU” service is provided free-of-charge to parents with children in the hospital’s Level III NICU and is especially designed for parents whose sick babies have extended stays in the NICU. “The peek-a-boo cameras mean that parents are never more than a click away from their child” said Dr Gerald Nystrom, Medical Director of Neonatal Medicine at Texas Health Dallas.

The system’s audio capabilities allow parents to talk and read to their children when they can’t be at the hospital. Specially designed speaker systems inside each crib control the volume of the parent’s voice to soothe the baby and help the parent and child bond.  The system is run through a secure web site that requires a special password for each family.

The real-time streaming crib cams were funded by a gift made to the Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation. The donation to the Foundation was made by Amy and Dan Hood of Dallas, whose son was born with a heart condition causes narrowing of the main blood vessel that leaves the heart from the left ventricle. Their son spent one week in the Texas Health Dallas NICU before going home.  

Approximately 6,000 babies are delivered each year at Texas Health Dallas’ Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants. More than 700 are admitted to the NICU which provides specialized care for babies born prematurely or with serious health complications. Some of the fragile babies are transferred from hospitals hundreds of miles away to the hospital’s NICU.

According to Chris Brooks Nursing Manager of the Level III NICU, “Many mothers take maternity leave to be with their babies at home. If their child has an unforeseen stay in the NICU, some mothers elect to go back to work to save leave time to be with their baby after being discharged from the hospital. Other times, a new mom can’t be by her baby’s side because of her own medical issues from her delivery or if the new mom has an ongoing illness.”