The neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, along with several other NICU’s across the country, has implemented a system called Nicview which allows parents to check in on their child from anywhere at practically any time, including via their smartphone. The set up is simple – a webcam which delivers a secure live feed that is accessible from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It’s not cheap though – installation of each camera is $1,000 and has cost other facilities $30,000 to implement.

The cost to implement the system is well worth it to parents and families though, particularly when their newborns end up in the NICU for weeks or months. One family is even working to raise money to install the system in the local NICU in which they suffered the loss of their child.

Nicview enables parents to access a live streaming video of their child via practically any device including smartphones, which lets a parent literally look in on their child from anywhere and any time. In fact, according to Nicview, half of the sessions originate from iPads, iPhones, Android devices, and other web-enabled mobile devices.

The medical director of St. Jude’s NICU described the physician perspective on this to CNN recently,

“The family feels that they are really connected to their infant, which is important for bonding. In the past, the bonding process had to be instituted every few days,” said Dr. David Hicks, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jude Medical Center. “The family dynamics are improved.”

However, when healthcare institutions across the country are tightening a belt, its certainly natural though to question whether the time is right for implementation of these systems as $30,000 could certainly be make big impacts in other areas. Certainly, the ability for the parents to see their child doesn’t mean that the child will be more likely to do better. But its worth remembering that, particularly with children, we are not only caring for a single patient but rather caring for a whole family.

In touching detail, the parents behind Leighton’s Gift, a drive to raise money to install Nicview in a Texas NICU, explain how their experience with their daughter Leighton, who died of late onset GBS early this past summer, affected them and why the investment is worth it.

The rules in the NICU are very strict. FOR GOOD REASON! These little ones are fragile and need to have limited visitors and stimulation. However, one of the hardest things as a family, was knowing that no one ever got to meet our sweet angel. Even though she was only 3 weeks old, she had her own spunky personality. She always looked our way when we were there. She would kick her little foot over to us and shake it back and forth. She would “hum” (just like her twin brother still does) when we held her. These are just a few of the things that we wish everyone could have seen. “Leighton’s Gift” IS going to make sure that happens for other families. There are so many milestones met in the NICU that will be able to be viewed through Leighton’s Gift. Families will have the opportunity to view IN REAL TIME, these milestone’s (first bath, diaper changes, feedings, cuddle time, etc.). We pray that this project will help make families who are faced with a child in the NICU feel more connected and comfortable when they are not able to be there in person.

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