ICU Webcams Connect Families with Newborns

Issue Date: 
March 17, 2014

Parents and relatives can now check on newborn family members hospitalized in UPMC’s neonatal intensive care units—thanks to a new camera system installed in those units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. These are two of only three hospitals in Pennsylvania to implement the password-protected webcam system called NICVIEW. Using an Internet connection, the system gives families a virtual connection to their newborns.

Having one’s newborn in a neonatal intensive care unit can cause concern for all involved: a mother may not see her baby for a few days if the baby remains in the hospital after delivery; a sibling might have to delay meeting a new brother or sister; or a grandparent may live far away. The NICVIEW system allows family and others, 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,” said Beverly Brozanski, clinical director, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Hospital of UPMC. “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.”

The NICU cameras are mounted above babies’ incubators, and families can access a live video stream 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 [neonatal intensive care unit] setting, parents are looking for any way to bond with their newborn,” said Roberta Bell, the clinician at Magee-Womens Hospital neonatal intensive care unit. “We’re also encouraging breast-feeding mothers to log on and watch their babies 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 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which requires confidential handling of patient information. Children’s Hospital of UPMC received funding for the NICVIEW system from the Snee-Reinhardt Foundation. Magee’s system was initially funded through a grant from the hospital’s Volunteer Service Board.