Whitney Broom gently lays a hand upon her newborn daughter Weslie, lying in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at UC San Diego Health. She is filled with gratitude.
“We knew since I was 12 weeks pregnant that Weslie had a defect in her abdominal wall, so we were expecting that she was going to be an early arrival. Of course that’s not the story we had planned out, but we were able to prepare for it.”
Weslie arrived at 33 weeks gestation. She weighed just over four pounds, and currently requires around-the-clock intensive care by the NICU staff. “I visit every day, all day,” said Broom. “I go home most nights, and when I am at home, it brings me comfort to see my daughter.”
Because NICU patients are high-risk, visitation is limited. A technology in UC San Diego Health’s NICUs, called Angel Eye, allows Broom and family members to watch Weslie at any time. The internet-based camera is fastened above Weslie’s bed. Family members can log into a secure account from their laptops, tablets or smart phones for live video streaming.
“My parents have their morning coffee and sit and put her on their iPad and watch her,” said Broom. “I have aunts and uncles across the country that check in. My little brother lives in Colorado, so he and his wife log in and then text me, ‘We’re watching Weslie. She’s so cute. We can’t wait to meet her.’”
When a family member is watching the baby, a light atop the camera blinks. “I’m amazed when we go into the account sometimes to see the list of people watching,” said Brittaney Lincoln, NICU nurse. “There are babies where the light is always blinking because they have family on the east coast and even other countries watching.”
The camera has helped in others ways too. “When I wake up in the middle of the night to pump at home, I check in on her,” said Broom, “and it helps with my milk production.”
Both UC San Diego Health hospitals offer NICU support for babies born prematurely or with health issues that require hospitalization. The Level II NICU at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest treats babies who require short-term intensive care after birth. The Level III NICU at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, where Weslie is being treated, cares for babies with critical, more complex or longer term medical needs. Both locations offer the Angel Eye software.
“It is a process for moms to come visit their babies in the NICU when they have just delivered, and sometimes, it’s impossible,” said Lincoln. “Whether the parents are in a hospital room or discharged home, our NICU web cameras allow them to monitor their baby, and if he or she is sleeping, then parents feel like they can get some rest as well.”
“We care for the whole family, not just the baby. We want to ease parents’ stress and worries while they are in this vulnerable environment, and using the web cameras is one way we can do that.”
Broom says watching Weslie sometimes cry on camera while she is at home is difficult, but she is grateful that the technology is available. “We feel a part of her care and deeply connected to her whether we are sitting next to her incubator at the hospital or at home miles away. It has made a huge difference in our experience and has helped us through this process.”
A technology in UC San Diego Health’s neonatal intensive care units, called Angel Eye, allows family members to watch their babies at any time.
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