September 25, 2017
WICHITA – Early in her second pregnancy, Alli Dunbar started having health issues – extremely high blood pressure, high levels of testosterone and signs of preeclampsia. Alli and her husband, Ryan, were concerned, as these were the same issues she had when pregnant with their earlier twins. They underwent additional testing done and learned Alli had theca lutein, an endocrine disease rarely associated with a normal singleton pregnancy.
“It was helpful to know why I was having all of these pregnancy issues, but not helpful in that there is really no treatment for this condition other than monitoring,” Alli said. “My weekly monitoring started at 18 weeks and my sweet boy, Sutton, was born 10 weeks later and admitted to Wesley’s NICU.”
A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides specialized infant care that is critical to sustaining and nurturing newborns. Infants who have complications due to premature birth, infection or other health challenges are admitted to this unit. Infants receive care from physicians called neonatologists, nurses and neonatal respiratory therapists along with pediatric subspecialists.
Welsey had just implemented an innovative $18K webcam technology to its NICU when Sutton was admitted, providing Alli and her husband the opportunity to see him at any time of the day and from anywhere they were.
“As a parent, you worry about missing out on critical bonding time with your baby when you can’t be there right beside them all the time,” Alli said. “It was such a blessing and so comforting to me being able to peek in on him, and it also was a huge motivator for me to continue to pump breast milk for him.”
This new technology, called NICVIEW, is a bedside camera that transmits live visual images of the infant through a secure online portal. This passcode-protected portal is designed to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and enables parents to view their infant via any device connected to the internet.
“When a baby is hospitalized in the NICU, this can be a very stressful and frightening time for families and it’s even more difficult when they can’t be at the hospital with their baby,” said Cindy Poirier, Wesley Medical Center’s director of women’s and infant services. “The addition of this technology to our NICU underscores our goal of providing the highest level of patient- and family centered care and helps parents stay connected with the baby as well as the medical team.”
Wesley’s NICU has installed 18 NICVIEW cameras, which are individually mounted at each baby’s bed space, and are conveniently out of the way for NICU staff to care readily for the infants. The cameras run on the hospital’s network and do not interfere in any way with the technology otherwise in use in the unit. NICU staff has been trained on the use of the system and has the option of turning off the camera when needed. None of the images are recorded or stored.
“Many parents have outside obligations, such as work or caring for other small children at home that pull them away from the NICU,” said Barry Bloom, MD, neonatologist and Wesley Medical Center neonatal medical director. “Having the option to make a ‘virtual visit’ to the child’s bedside any time eases the family’s concern and enables them to still bond with their newborn, which is crucial to their development.”
Wesley’s level III NICU averages more than 1,200 admissions a year and provides the highest level of neonatal care in south central Kansas.