Parents of Richmond Hospital’s smallest patients gain new connection with their infants
Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) Richmond Hospital announced the launch of the first initiative of its kind in B.C. to better connect families with their premature infants. Parents can now monitor and virtually visit their premature infant 24/7 through a private and secure live streaming camera. The hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) first installed the cameras at the infant’s bedsides as part of a pilot project in June 2022.
Since the pilot first began, the NICU has virtually connected over 40 babies and their families, facilitating over 2,500 unique visits from across the world including Columbia, the Philippines and Ireland. In a survey of families who used the technology, 100 per cent of participants stated it decreased their level of anxiety and helped them to bond with their baby.
Based on positive feedback from families, the secure camera system will remain a permanent fixture at the hospital’s NICU. As the average length of stay in the Richmond Hospital NICU stands at two weeks, many families who cannot stay with their infant continuously have this alternative option to connect with them.
Speaking about the initiative, Jill Schulmeister, Women’s and Children's Program Manager at Richmond Hospital said,
“No parent expects to have to leave the hospital without their baby and, sadly, this is the reality for those with babies who need specialized care after birth. Seeing the emotional toll this separation has on parents, the NICU team wanted to find a way to keep families and babies connected, even when they are not physically together.
“At various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, visits to the NICU were limited to immediate family, as these infants are very vulnerable to diseases. This was the impetus for us to explore alternative ways of enabling families to connect remotely. A simple camera system has brought so much joy and has reduced anxiety among parents who now have peace of mind that their infant is being cared for while they are away from the hospital.”
Preethi Krishnan accessed the streaming camera to monitor her twin babies while they received care at Richmond Hospital’s NICU for approximately three weeks in Oct. Speaking about this experience, she said, “As a parent, it gave our family significant comfort and reassurance to be able to check in on our babies while we were not by their bedsides. As I look back on this challenging time for our family, I am so grateful that this option was available to us and will be an option for other families with premature babies.”
This initiative launched due to a generous donation from the Richmond Hospital Foundation as part of their focus on helping improve care through innovation and technology.