New Technology at Three BayCare Hospitals Keeps Parents Connected to Fragile Newborns

December 05, 2023
A newborn baby boy in a NICU bed is sleeping. The baby has medical equipment hooked up to him.
View of Cashel, a newborn patient in Morton Plant Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, from the AngelEye PatientConnect app.

When parents have to leave their newborn in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the separation can leave them feeling overwhelmed and anxious. New technology in three of BayCare’s NICUs is making it easier for families to watch over their babies when they can’t be there in person.  

St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital (SJWH) launched the AngelEye camera system in its NICU earlier this year, followed by the NICUs at Mease Countryside Hospital (MCH) and Morton Plant Hospital (MPH) in November.  

AngelEye is a visual monitoring system offering 24/7 live-streaming video of a baby in the NICU to family members any time through a secure app on their phone, tablet or computer. In addition, the PatientConnect app enables doctors and nurses to easily share information about their baby’s care and memorable moments with texts, photos and recorded videos, giving families a view into the treatment plan and progress their baby is making even when they can’t be there physically.

“We understand how stressful it is for parents when their newborn requires the expert care that only a NICU can provide,” said Brenda Carvalho, director of patient care services for the NICUs at MCH and MPH. “Adding the AngelEye technology is one of the ways we can help make their NICU journey more meaningful and create stronger bonds for our most fragile patients and their families.”

When Tyler and Ashley DeShaw’s son, Cashel, was born prematurely and with a knot in his umbilical cord, he spent nine days in MPH’s NICU. With a toddler to also care for, they split their time between the hospital and home. 

“Having access to AngelEye meant that I could go home at night while still feeling connected to how Cashel was doing,” Ashley DeShaw said. “The nurses were great at sending us updates through the app, like how much he ate during the night and how many diapers he went through.”
A man smiling at the camera is holding a toddler girl and I woman holds the toddler's hand while also holding a newborn baby.
Tyler and Ashley DeShaw with their 18-month-old daughter, Chloe, and newborn son, Cashel.
According to Carvalho, the baby’s mother is given administrative power and can choose to make the other parent an administrator. 

“The parents also can give access to relatives and friends, who all have to create their own passwords to view the feed,” said Carvalho. “Because AngelEye is linked to the hospital’s admission system, parents are assured an extra layer of security.” 

Cashel’s parents took advantage of this feature, adding both of their mothers to their account.

For Charles Ennis, director of patient care services for SJWH’s NICU, AngelEye is another extension of BayCare’s dedication to family-focused care. “Baby is the most important patient, but we consider mom, dad and the family unit our patients as well,” Ennis says. “Their treatment is bonding. We balance caring for the baby, but also strengthening that bond.”

MCH NICU Nurse Manager Elisa Ste. Marie said that feedback from families has been overwhelmingly positive. “Being able to see their newborn whenever they want and getting updates from the caregivers in real-time has made such a difference in how families handle this difficult time in their lives.”
A small camera screen looks over a newborn baby in a NICU bed.
AngelEye camera looking over newborn Vivian, who spent 60 days in St. Joseph's Women's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit earlier this year.
Viewing their baby on a webcam has also helped mothers who pump breast milk while away from the hospital. Ennis says BayCare is launching a formal study into the app’s contribution to breast milk production for mothers of premature infants. But he doesn’t need a study to tell him the peace of mind it has provided to the babies’ family members, who have cumulatively racked up nearly 100,000 views since SJWH’s program went live, from more than 30 U.S. states and from as far as Asia and Europe.

“It does take a village to raise a baby,” Ennis says. “Our role is only temporary in a baby’s life. We work miracles, but it’s so important that we do everything we can to have that strong bond as if you didn’t have to go into the NICU. Our mission is to care for the community. We’re always pushing boundaries of what that community means.”

Learn more about the lifesaving care and unique services provided in BayCare’s NICUs here.

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