By JULIE MINDA
To ease parents' anxiety when they cannot be physically with their infant in the neonatal intensive care unit, Covenant Children's hospital in Lubbock, Texas, has installed video cameras at each of the hospital's 43 NICU incubators.
The facility switched on the high-definition NicView brand cameras in March.
A clinician at Covenant Children's hospital in Lubbock, Texas, views an infant on a livestream video from the neonatal intensive care unit.
Each camera is focused on the occupant of a single incubator and transmits continuous livestream video. The cameras have a "night vision" functionality for recording in low light.
Covenant provides new parents with a secure access code they can use to view their babies anytime, from any device that is equipped to access the Internet. Parents can share their access code with loved ones.
The babies' nurses also can access the livestream.
Tiffany Patterson, Covenant Children's NICU nurse educator, said the hospital's "family-centered care committee" came up with the idea to use the cameras, and Covenant's charitable foundation, community donors and employees paid for the equipment.
The NicView camera is manufactured by Natus Medical Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. According to Kristina Malloy, director of downstream marketing for Natus, NicView cameras went on the market in 2010. More than 300 U.S. hospitals and more than 25 facilities overseas use the technology.
Video cameras installed over incubators in the neonatal intensive care unit at Covenant Children's hospital transmit images that can be viewed at anytime by family members and clinicians. The camera lens is in the square apparatus atop the lightbox.
She said the vast majority of Natus customers use their NicView cameras in the NICU, but some use them in labor and delivery, for instance, to enable a parent deployed in the military to witness the birth of a child. And, some facilities use the cameras in pediatric intensive care units, said Malloy.
Covenant is among a growing number of facilities installing such cameras to better support parents who must leave the hospital so that they can rest, tend to other children at home, go back to work or see to other obligations. Loved ones who might have a virus can turn on the video feed to safely "visit" the medically fragile newborn.
Patterson said moms who have had to express breast milk for their babies from outside the NICU have found "they are having better success with pumping and milk production" when they can see their babies on the livestream while expressing. "There have been reports that moms who are able to pump near their baby or even looking at a picture of their baby will have better production, so these moms being able to watch a live feed from wherever they are can be very impactful."
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