The birth of a baby is one of the happiest events in a family's life, but when an infant is born prematurely the happiness can be mixed with worry. With the help of the Baptist Health Foundation, Brookwood Baptist Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is the first in Alabama to install a NicView system that allows families to stay in touch with their babies and to develop a bond even when they can't be at the hospital.
"Our foundation's mission is to find ways to invest in opportunities that help patients and families, especially those who are in vulnerable situations," says Alison Decker Scott, Executive Director of the Baptist Health Foundation. "When we learned about the NicView system, it made perfect sense for us to provide it for these families."
The Brookwood NICU staff was looking for a way to better connect with families and suggested that the Foundation might be a funding partner for the project. "This was a great way for us to help," Scott says. "We have been so pleased with the project at Brookwood that we are already allocating funds to install the equipment at Princeton Baptist and Shelby Baptist."
The NicView webcam system is a sophisticated online, live service with HD-quality video that allows streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each Isolette crib has its own camera. Every family in the NICU has a unique login and password, and the parents can choose who they want to share the information with. In addition to live streaming, users can also do screenshots and download video at any time.
"We realized that half of the families in the Brookwood NICU are coming from more than an hour away. A lot of mothers try to preserve their maternity leave until the baby comes home, and some fathers are working or may be deployed in the armed forces and can't be at home," Scott says. "Many moms have told me it doesn't feel natural with their baby in the NICU, as they expected to bring them home, so these cameras let these families have some sense of normalcy."
With NicView, families can share pictures and videos, watch their baby, and experience the excitement when their child reaches milestones and gets stronger every day. "The NicView is often the first thing parents ask for, and both families and nurses are excited about it," says Annette Ingle, RN, Director of the NICU at Brookwood. "The cameras are great for the families, but they also help the nurses. It has been especially helpful during the COVID-19 event, allowing families to see their babies while they were not allowed in the NICU."
The NICU nurses can control the cameras from a computer outside the patients' rooms. "We can move the cameras when needed and we can put cute sayings on the screen such as 'first bath,' 'first bottle,' to let parents know how their babies are doing," Ingle says.
The cameras provide peace of mind for parents who live far away and can't be at Brookwood Hospital 24/7. One mother delivered her baby in Dothan, and the baby had to be emergency transferred to Birmingham. "You don't know how important it was for me to get the phone call telling me to log into my phone and see my baby hours after I had delivered," she says.
The Foundation donors have also discovered an unexpected benefit from the NicView. "We felt that the families would love the cameras and that has overwhelmingly been the case," Scott says. "But we were surprised by how much the nurses and doctors appreciate them. We have learned that regardless of your situation or your background, when your baby is in the NICU, it is an isolating and helpless feeling. That's why there is a camera on every bed. It's not every day that you get to make this kind of difference in someone's life, so it has been especially gratifying for our Foundation to be able to be there in these families' time of need."