Newborn monitoring in NICU goes high-tech

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Robert Jr. is 8-days-old and has spent his entire life at the Medical Center of Trinity Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. 

He's doing great now, but dad Robert Lagana says his baby's tiny life didn't start out that way.  

"We went through a very tough time we got very close to losing both of them," Lagana said.  

During delivery, mom Rosa Perez's placenta ruptured, cutting off baby Robert's oxygen. He was a month early and, instead of landing in his mother's arms, he was sent to NICU.   

"I remember waking up and I was asking, 'I want to go see him,' and they said, 'you can't go see him yet,' because they had to do all the medical procedures first and I was really devastated," Rosa remembers. 

That's when Robert showed her a new app called Nic View.  Rosa was able to see her baby for the first time on Robert's phone.

"It’s definitely like, a happy feeling, butterflies in your stomach and all," she smiled. 

I.T. Director Kurt Hornung asked to bring the software to the hospital. Fifteen years ago, his son was born eight weeks early. 

"For eight weeks, we had to drive back and forth, so it would have been great for us to have this technology," Hornung said.

To maintain privacy, images travel through the hospital server, plus two firewalls, to the vendor's off-site server, and then to the cloud. Parents get a unique login they can share with family or friends.

"It's a very secure system, its very safe, it can't hurt the babies, there is nothing that can get out," Lynn Smith, Director of Neonatal Services explained. 

Using Nic View, nurses can send messages to mom and dad like, 'I just got a bath,' or 'I just got fed,' and allows parents to respond. Smith thinks that two-way communication helps staff and parents, 

"It will allow the nurses to feel comfort, that they know that the moms are reassured with the care they're giving," Smith said. 

Rosa says it also gives her some special moments to remember.

"He has this thing where he sticks out his tongue, just little things that you notice - it's amazing you can't be there all the time but with the camera you're viewing everything he did," she said.
At lunch in the cafeteria, mom and dad watch baby Robert undergo his final test before going home. They're making sure he's strong enough to endure 90 minutes in a car seat. But saying goodbye to the hospital also means separating from the technology that's connected them around the clock.

"It'll be a little tougher, not being able to do that at any point in the day," Robert says.

Rosa laughed, adding, "He'll probably be calling me 50 times a day, 'What is he doing now? send me pictures!' because he can't see the live camera!"