Network of cameras helping parents of NICU babies - KMOV.com

Network of cameras helping parents of NICU babies

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NicView cameras at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital (Credit: KMOV) NicView cameras at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Having a child in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be difficult for the entire family.  Now, a St. Louis hospital has a high-tech tool to help parents bond with their child in the NICU while still carrying on with life outside the hospital.

“NicView cameras are a special camera system that are at every bedside here in our private rooms in the NICU and they are used so families can log in and view their baby from anywhere,” said Cassie McAllister, a certified child life specialist at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Right now, Cardinal Glennon is the only St. Louis area hospital with the cameras.

Dozens of families are already using them, including the Kaltenbachs from St. Charles County.

“My water broke with Henry at 20 weeks and I was on bed rest for 13 weeks,” said Samantha Kaltenbach, now a mother to 14-week-old twins, a 3-year-old, and 4-year old.

When Henry and his twin sister Eleanor finally arrived at 33 weeks gestation, he immediately needed critical care.

“It’s hard to have a whole family and then have a baby in the NICU, especially with twins,” said Kaltenbach.

But, the tiny camera above Henry’s crib at Cardinal Glennon is making it a little bit easier when the family can’t be at his bedside.

“We can call the nurses but it’s really nice to be able to actually see him, see how he’s doing, see how he’s breathing,” said Kaltenbach.

“They can log in from a phone, IPad, computer, anywhere that has computer access,” said McAllister, who helps oversee the program. “They will log in and see a tight shot of the baby in their bed. So it’s mainly just the baby’s body and face but they will see them either sleeping or awake or whatever they’re doing.”

The cameras are turned off when a procedure is being done and in the case of an emergency. Parents can also opt out of having the cameras on altogether.

“When the parents’ consent to having the cameras turned on, we send them the username and password and that stays consistent for the baby throughout the hospitalization and then the family, it’s up to them who they share that with,” said McAllister.

For the Kaltenbach family, that includes grandparents and dad at work.

“My husband’s grandma can’t get out of the house very well so it’s great for her. I mean, I think they literally leave the computer screen up all day long and watch him,” said Kaltenbach.

That is common for many of the families. The staff at Cardinal Glennon say they have family members viewing in other states and even other countries.

For this St. Charles County family, it also helps bridge the bonding gap as mom prepares to go back to work and is balancing family at home.  

“In the middle of the night when I would get up with her and feed her (Eleanor), I could log in look at him and see how he was doing,” said Kaltenbach.

Kaltenbach said the cameras haven’t changed how often she comes to visit Henry but does give her peace of mind while she is away.

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