New Webcam System Connects Parents with Babies in the NICU

No parent imagines having to leave the hospital without their newborn. For those parents who have to keep their little ones in the neonatal intensive care unit at CHOC at Mission Hospital for treatment, however, there is now special technology to ensure families can be together and bond with their newborns when they can’t be at the bedside.

Baby Peyton Valentine and family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CHOC Children's at Mission Hospital.
Baby Peyton Valentine and her family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CCMH.

CHOC at Mission Hospital is proud to be the first children’s hospital in California to offer the new NICVIEW webcam system. The system allows families to see real-time, live video of their infant remotely, from anywhere they can log on to the Internet.

“This takes family-centered care to a higher level,” said Liz Drake, clinical nurse specialist in the NICU at CHOC Mission, where the system went live on Aug. 21.

Katie and Andrew Hock of Ladera Ranch were among the first parents to benefit from the NICVIEW webcam system. Their daughter, Madeline, spent time in the NICU at CHOC Mission to be treated for respiratory problems after she was born on Aug. 16. The couple logged on to the webcam right away using their iPhones, and were able to look at their baby when they weren’t at the hospital.

“The camera gave me a sense of security, which is nice. I could see if she was still sleeping and her IV was still in,” said Katie, who along with her husband shared the password for their daughter’s video feed with their parents and siblings, including Katie’s sister who lives in Hawaii.

“The grandparents were addicted to seeing her all hours of the day,” Katie, a first-time mom, said with a laugh.

The NICVIEW webcam is easy to use with any major Internet browser. The information and video are secure, and only the baby’s family can allow other users to access the live video.

Users can view the baby at any time except when the baby is receiving nursing or medical care, or having a procedure. A webcam is mounted at every bedside in the NICU and families can opt in or out at any time, so use of the camera is up to them.

In addition to the bonding benefits of the NICVIEW webcam, there are also health benefits for the new parents and their newborn.

“If you can decrease the anxiety of a parent, you can reduce the overall stress of a hospitalization,” Drake said.

“Another benefit is for nursing mothers. It’s best for a mom to pump breast milk in front of her baby or a picture of her baby as this can help the mom produce more milk. When our moms are at home or can’t be here, this can help them pump with their babies in view. We’re creating a connection where they didn’t have one before,” Drake explained.

She added that the webcams are wonderful tools for military parents who are deployed overseas, and for out-of-state grandparents who can’t visit. It helps siblings at home who want to see their new baby brother or sister. They’re also great for moms who are visiting Orange County, and happen to give birth early or unexpectedly, and have family in another city or state who can’t visit.

Further, the webcams will help families bond with newborns in the NICU during flu season, when only the babies’ parents are allowed in the NICU for health safety reasons, Drake said.

“It’s wonderful. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology,” Katie said.

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The Next Best Thing To Mom

Mother Nature has already provided the perfect place for your baby to grow — you. But for babies born prematurely, our newly expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital is a close second. Every aspect of our calm, serene healing environment is designed to support your baby’s brain, sensory and physical development, while fostering strong parental attachment.

“It’s our responsibility to create an environment that is as protective as possible for growing and developing infants,” says Dr. Stephen Hanten, NICU medical director. “These recent enhancements to our unit will make it easier to provide a healing and nurturing environment for infants and their parents.”

The first things you’ll notice are the dimmed lighting and just how quiet it is. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you’d never know you were actually in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). You’d certainly never guess the NICU at CHOC Mission recently added six brand-new beds and more working space. That’s because every aspect of our recently expanded and remodeled unit is purposely designed to be as calm, serene and “womb-like” as possible.

Even our doctors, nurses and staff speak with lowered voices.

Going to such efforts to control light and sound might seem like a small detail for an intensive care unit that provides such sophisticated, highly advanced care for premature and critically ill newborns. But it is actually better medicine. These efforts are important protective measures, and CHOC Mission is meeting and exceeding standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A baby’s sight and hearing develop during the last couple months of pregnancy — ideally within the dark, calm, protective uterine environment. A baby born prematurely is exposed to noises and visual stimuli at a time when the still-developing brain is not yet ready. This may affect how the baby learns, processes, sees and hears, and ultimately impact school success later on.

“An infant’s brain is growing with every experience we provide, which is why we want as much of the physical environment to be as ‘Mom-like’ as possible,” said NICU Clinical Nurse Specialist Liz Drake, R.N., M.N. “How we practice today helps determine how this child will be at ages 3, 5, 15 and 30.”

Family Centered Care, Early Attachment

A baby may spend anywhere from a few days to a few months inside the CHOC Mission NICU. Each bed space is designed to make that stay as comfortable as possible.

Rooms in the new area are larger, providing more space for parents and nursing staff at the baby’s bedside. Updated technology and furnishings include “family chairs” carefully selected by parents with comfort in mind. All interior finishes, including flooring, window treatments and ceiling tiles, were chosen for noise-reduction qualities, as well as aesthetic design.

The goal is to encourage parents to stay longer— 24 hours, if possible. The baby-centric, family friendly approach promotes breast-feeding, strengthens the parent-child bond, and enhances the efforts of our expert physician and nursing staff.

“We ultimately want to create an environment that supports parent and infant attachment,” Dr. Hanten says. “Evidence shows, and we believe, that the more time parents spend with their infant and are involved in their infant’s care while in the hospital, the faster the infant grows and goes home.”

The CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital NICU is located on the fifth floor of Mission Hospital, 27700 Medical Center Rd., Mission Viejo, CA  92691. 

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CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is Expanding to Better Serve the Families of OC

CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital (CCMH), located on the fifth floor of Mission Hospital’s patient care tower, serves as the only dedicated pediatric healthcare facility for families in south Orange County, the surrounding coastal areas and north San Diego County.

Currently, the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is undergoing an expansion, which will add six new dedicated NICU beds and accompanying amenities, needed to meet increasing regional demand for this highly specialized care. Plans also include modification of the existing isolation rooms, and formula and lactation rooms. Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2012.

The expansion of the NICU is another example of CCMH’s dedication to providing newborn babies with innovative and specialized care, giving them a strong chance of growing up to lead healthy, normal lives.

Learn more about CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

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