Timpanogos Regional Hospital adds webcams to connect NICU infants to families

NICU camera

Grandparents, siblings and others are always eager to meet new arrivals, so when a baby must spend time in a hospital’s NICU after birth, it’s a tough wait for everyone. Thanks to a series of bedside cameras, however, families at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem, Utah, can connect with the latest addition right away.

The initial 12 cameras and supporting equipment were purchased with $25,000 from the 2016 Pathway Award, a grant awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. They allow for live webcams, securely connected to a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. Now parents and others who have been granted access can “visit” the newborn 24/7 from wherever they might be. Babies in the NICU can only have limited adult visitors due to the risk of infection, an outcome that in the past meant siblings often had to wait weeks or more to meet their new brother or sister. Now they can see the baby on a screen right away, a better outcome for everyone, says Sandy Ewell, chief nursing officer.

“When we developed our Level III NICU, we began receiving a lot of babies from out of town, and often the mother was in a different facility,” Ewell says. “That meant she and the rest of the family lost that immediate connection with the baby. Also, sometimes the father or other family member was deployed with the military or working out of town. We wanted to find a safe, secure way to create a connection so that the baby could be seen by the family, and so we got to work.”

The cameras, which make Timpanogos Regional the only Utah hospital with virtual visits to newborns, have been a big hit, reducing anxiety for families and improving the overall patient experience. Safety and security are maintained thanks to the system being private and closed, with unique usernames and passwords given only to the child’s parents, who then may share access only if they choose to do so. More cameras have been added and the hospital now has a camera for all 24 of its NICU beds.

“We saw the opportunity for the Pathway grant, which would provide funds for a nursing IT project, and were so excited to get the award,” Ewell says. “We looked at several providers, and it was quite a process, but the cameras have been a real game-changer for our babies and families.

“We had a mom who was driving for 40 minutes twice a day to see her baby,” she continues. “Once the cameras were up she could check on him any time. Another mother only spoke Spanish, and it was hard for her to understand how to set up her device with our instructions. One of the nurses helped her through it, and when her baby’s image popped up she just began crying. This just transcends so many barriers, and it’s so wonderful to see nursing and IT come together to create a solution for our families.”

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