Brenner Children’s Hospital Introduces Neonatal Webcam System

July 11, 2014

The parents of a newborn receiving intensive care at Brenner Children’s Hospital no longer have to be on-site to keep watch over their baby.

Brenner Children’s, the pediatric arm of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has installed a webcam system in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) through which family members can use any device with Internet capability to see their baby on a live video stream. Brenner is the first hospital in the Carolinas to employ this system, called Nicview, which is password-protected and secured with encryption.

“Our tiny patients stay in the hospital for several weeks and, in some cases months,” said Cherrie D. Welch, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist and medical director of Brenner’s nurseries. “Their families often live far away and have difficulty with transportation. This gives them a way to connect and bond with their infant when they can’t be here.  

“In other instances, babies are transported to the NICU shortly after birth and their mothers have to stay behind, having just delivered. It is often several days before mothers are able to be discharged and join their baby. Fathers are torn between staying with the mother and going with their baby. This system allows mothers to stay connected during this heart-wrenching separation and eases the father’s stress a little, too.”

The webcams, which were installed in late May, are positioned at incubators in the NICU. The video feed does not have audio and is not recorded. There is no charge for the service, though a consent form must be signed by parents, who are then free to share their password with anyone they wish. Passwords are terminated upon discharge from the unit. Viewing times are at the discretion of the hospital, and NICU nurses can turn off the camera when giving care or when the baby is in distress.

Brenner’s Nicview system is produced and managed by Healthcare Observation Systems of Louisville, Ky., and is in use at approximately 30 other sites across the country.

“The system has been a huge hit with our families,” Welch said. “Many mothers have told me that they sleep better at night being able to see their baby before they drift off to sleep.”  

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