Pampers grant helps UVA NICU expand virtual program to connect parents and babies

Updated: Jun. 14, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Ending up in the neonatal intensive care unit with a new baby is a nightmare for many parents, especially during a global pandemic. Now, a Pampers technology grant is helping nurses and families get through that tough time at UVA Children’s Hospital. With this Pampers Bright Beginnings NICU Technology Grant, doctors and nurses were able to introduce several NICU parents to AngelEye.

This video streaming service and communication app allows families to stay connected with their babies during this time of increased isolation and limited visitation. When UVA enrolled new mother Brandy Watson in the program, she was overcome with emotion.

“It was tears of joy because i mean you don’t expect to be able to see your baby when you leave,” Watson said. When Watson unexpectedly delivered her son Layne a few weeks early, it made for scary situation.

“We ended up at UVA and they introduced this AngelEye camera to us pretty much immediately,” she said. Thanks to AngelEye-- Watson is able to see Layne outside of the NICU.

“The overall response has been overwhelmingly positive families are extremely grateful for the gift, they’ve been brought to tears when we’ve enrolled them in the program,” NICU Nurse Manager Rachel Nauman said.

Watson says nurses will also use the technology to send updates and sweet messages, which is especially important to families who live far away.

“There’s babies in here that their parents travel hours and hours away to be with them,” Watson said.

“About 35% to 40% of our families come from outlying hospitals or transferred here and so many of our families live hours away," Medical Director of the NICU Jonathan Swanson said. “Even without the visiting restrictions that are currently in place with COVID.”

Now, AngelEye is there to give parents peace of mind at any point in their day. It’s not just about seeing the baby on a camera; the physical and mental health benefits are abundant.

“There’s been several studies that have showing improved bonding between parents and their infants just being able to see them as well as improved mental health for for moms who are going through a difficult time,” Swanson added.

UVA Children’s Hospital does not have cameras at every bed yet, but this grant is getting them one step closer to that goal.

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