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Webcam System Allows Loved Ones to View Newborns in NICU

New parents and family members can check in on their infants hospitalized in UPMC’s neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) any time of day and from anywhere in the world thanks to a new camera system installed in the NICUs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Children’s Hospital and Magee-Womens Hospital are two of only three hospitals in the state to implement this password-protected webcam system called NICVIEW, which, through an Internet connection, gives families a virtual connection to their newborns.

The early hours and days after having a newborn that requires intensive care are critical for the parents, the baby, and the family. A newborn in the NICU causes separation and anxiety for everyone involved and can occur for many reasons—a mother may not see her newborn for a few days if she remains in the hospital after delivery, a sibling might not meet his new brother or sister, or a grandparent may be long distance. The NICVIEW system allows family and friends, who are given a unique username and password, to log in and visit the baby from anywhere in the world.

“When a baby is hospitalized in the NICU, this can be a very stressful and frightening time for families and it is even more difficult when they can’t be at the hospital with their baby,” says Beverly Brozanski, MD, clinical director of Children’s NICU. “Being able to view their newborn on the camera is very reassuring and helps parents stay connected with the baby as well as the medical team.”

Thirty cameras are installed in the NICU of each hospital. The cameras are mounted above the baby’s incubator, which provides families access to a live video stream that they can watch from a computer or mobile device at six appointed times throughout the day. The cameras are turned off during change of shift and during routine care hours.

“In a NICU setting, parents are looking for any way to bond with their newborn,” says Roberta Bell, Magee-Women’s Hospital NICU clinician. “We’re also encouraging breast-feeding mothers to log on and watch their baby in real-time while pumping as a way to increase production.  We’ve received very positive feedback from women who have had this option.”

The NICVIEW system is designed to comply with HIPAA, which requires confidential handling of patient information.

Children’s received funding for the NICVIEW system from the Snee-Reinhardt Foundation. Magee was initially funded through a grant from the hospital’s Volunteer Service Board. The fundraising efforts of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation through the funds raised at the 2013 Savor Pittsburgh event will support the purchase of an additional 30 cameras this spring.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center