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Examiner
  • With camera in NICU, parents get daily peek at hospitalized baby

  • Parents and family members of infants in intensive care at Centerpoint Medical Center can view the baby through a web camera.

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  • Parents and family members of infants in intensive care at Centerpoint Medical Center can view the baby through a web camera.
    “It’s a reassurance for the mom and dad and grandparents who are concerned about their baby,” said Kathryn Umbarger, an obstetrician technician at Centerpoint’s neonatal intensive care unit.
    Infants could stay at the unit for months after birth, Umbarger said. The mother is discharged well before the baby, typically two or three days after the delivery.
    Centerpoint serves patients and families from across the Kansas City metro but also in rural areas.
    “Some of these parents live two and three hours away and cannot just come to the hospital whenever they want,” Umbarger said. “You can imagine leaving your baby here for months and not able to be with it. They can see the baby and see that it’s doing OK and being taken care of. It gives the parents an opportunity to be involved in the baby’s care.”
    The hospital got the idea from a patient’s family member who was stationed overseas. His wife was having a baby at the hospital. Her family setup a web camera so the father could see the delivery. The father, stationed in Iraq, had access to the camera through a U.S. Military web link.
    “It was very intriguing,” said Umbarger. “It went very well.”
    Umbarger believed a webcam in the hospital’s NICU would be a great idea.
    Parents have the option of having a web camera on the infant, said Denise Moland, a registered nurse and director of women’s services department at Centerpoint. The parents receive a link via e-mail and can forward the link to whomever they want. The hospital will only send the link to the parents.
    Nurses activate the web camera at a specific time and day.
     “We will only run it for an hour a day,” Moland said.
    The nurses will care for the infant if a situation arises during the hour. “Typically, they are sleeping,” Moland said.
    The hospital does not charge for the service, she said.
    Centerpoint has used the web camera infrequently since starting the service months ago. Only a couple of families have used the web cameras.
    “It’s still pretty new,” she said.
    The unit has one webcam.
    Umbarger won an award for suggesting the hospital provide the web camera service. She submitted the web camera idea to the HCA Midwest Health System, the health care network that Centerpoint is part of. Umbarger was named the sole recipient for the HCA Innovators Award.

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