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Live cameras at Primary Children's NICU let parents see babies from anywhere and anytime

Posted at 8:10 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 22:10:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Parents have a new way to keep an eye on their infants admitted into Intermountain Primary Children’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Fifty live-streaming cameras allow families to stay connected while a baby is in the NICU.

"It’s hard to not be with my daughter physically,” said West Jordan mother Jessica Cedeno.

For almost six months now, Cedeno’s daughter has been in Primary Children’s NICU.

“My little girl was born early at 33 weeks and also with esophageal atresia which means her esophagus was incomplete,” Cedeno said outside the hospital Wednesday.

With two more kids at home, coupled with financial struggles during the pandemic, Jessica and her husband could only visit once a week. Now, Cedeno visits Anjali virtually.

"I have been able to see her more often. I can see her whenever I want to," Cedeno said. "I can see what she’s doing throughout the day, see how she’s developing and how she’s growing."

Intermountain installed “AngelEye” cameras close to every child’s bed. They allow for virtual visits from anywhere at anytime.

"We average 450 views a day,” said Kara Curnen, the neonatal critical care director at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Curnen pushed for the cameras for six years. They were installed in May with a secure internet connection. So far, the cameras have been accessed 22,000 times by families.

"It is more than what we expected. I thought it would be wonderful," Curnen said. "I thought some families would enjoy it. But it has way more views per day than I thought it would. Families are really over the moon about it."

Besides decreasing parents anxiety, studies show that seeing the child virtually while breast-feeding helps increase milk production.

While AngelEye is not the same as having her daughter home, Cedeno said it helps her bond with her new baby.

"Seeing her, it’s not as good as touch, obviously, but it is what it is. You make the best of your situation. That’s the situation we are living with Anjali right now, and it works,” Cedeno said.

The program was supposed to launch later this year, but because of COVID-19 and stricter visitor policies, it was pushed up. Curnen hopes it will expand to other NICUs in Utah.