Live video feeds of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica are now available to parents, siblings and extended family members during two 15-minute sessions each day through a new iPad initiative dubbed "I See U Baby."
NICU nurses facilitate the video feeds by uploading a secure, invitation-only network for parents and two additional invitees, who can receive silent video feeds via the Internet on their phones, tablets or computers. The video feeds are provided in "view only" mode to protect the privacy of other NICU patients and family members.
"Once families do it the first time, they are hooked," says Leticia Dahlke, RN, the assistant director of the NICU who served as project leader. "It's great because the video is live and the family members get to see the baby awake or yawning or moving. It's a great alternative to a picture."
Parents are asked to give their NICU nurses a 24-hour notice that they would like to schedule a video feed and must provide them with participants' e-mail addresses so the nurses can send out invitations, similar to those for online meetings. Participants create a user name and password, which takes about 30 seconds, and then click to join the meeting.
Because the video feeds are silent, NICU nurses created handwritten notes with messages such as "I love my sister," "I love my grandparents," "Thanks for visiting" and "Time to go," which they place in the isolette beside the infant to communicate with family members.
"The parents here are so anxious to share their little ones with their families, and the nurses get so excited about enabling the families to do that," Dahlke says. "It can be very emotional when you see the reactions and thank yous on the other side, like the grandpa who started crying because he was able to see his little grand baby."
More than a dozen families have signed up for "I See U Baby" video feeds so far. The program is being piloted at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital in Westwood as well and is expected to launch there in the next couple of months, Dahlke says.