UVA Study Allows Parents to Skype with Babies in NICU

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A new study at the University of Virginia focusing on babies in the NICU and their parents aims to improve healthcare through Skype.

The study created by two people at UVA has been crucial for people like Halima Walker, whose daughter, Cora, was born at just 23 weeks, weighing less than two pounds.

"She's overcome being born with an infection. She had a bleed in her brain, chronic lung disease, pneumonia,” Walker said.

Walker tries to be by Cora’s side whenever she can, but she can’t be there all the time. UVA Medical Center’s Skype study lets her check on her daughter even when she can’t be there in person. The Skype sessions are helpful whether it's an update or just to say goodnight.

"Usually I call to check up on her and see how she's doing but to see that she's OK is such a different experience, Walker said.

The goal is to build the relationships with nurses and parents. “The ability to check in to see their child will, we hope, cause them to be less stressed and continue to be involved as parents,” said Dr. Robert Sinkin, medical director for newborn services at UVA Medical Center.

For NICU nurse Ashley Early, Skyping makes her job easier. "It's comforting as a nurse to be able to show them these things and to be able to feel like they're getting involved,” she said.

And until Walker can bring Cora home, it's a way for her to stay involved.

"It'll be an awesome feeling. I feel like she might be a little bit spoiled because I will just sit there and hold her because I can,” Walker said. “I can't wait for her to come home."

Right now there are only a couple of iPads being used and parents are being recruited for the study. The ultimate goal is to have more iPads and offer it to more parents.

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