Being apart from a newborn while he or she is cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be heart-wrenching. To make the separation a little bit easier, The Valley Hospital's NICU has launched a service that allows parents and extended family to conduct "virtual visits" with their little ones via webcam on any computer.
Called "Peek-A-Boo I.C.U.," the service is believed to be the first of its kind in Bergen County.
"We have mothers who are ill for various reasons and can't come to the NICU to see their babies," says Frank Manginello, M.D., director of neonatology at Valley. "We also have parents who have to get back to work and can't come to the NICU every day. So to be able to log on to the computer and watch their baby has really been wonderful for them.
"We even had a couple whose extended family lives in the Philippines. The 'Peek-A-Boo' service enabled them to 'visit' with the baby while she was here," Manginello says.
Ryan and Colleen Brock, of Wayne, took advantage of the service while their daughter, Sydney Grace, was being cared for in Valley's NICU. The Peek-A-Boo I.C.U. service allowed Ryan to "visit" with Sydney Grace from his computer at work and to share images of her with his parents. "It's wonderful to be able to check in on Sydney even when we can't be at the hospital," says Colleen.
To access the system, parents need only a computer connected to the internet. "Visits" are conducted by appointment with the NICU staff. Using a webcam positioned near the infant in Valley's NICU, live video of the baby is streamed to the off-site computer.
Sessions are limited to approximately five minutes.
"Peek-A-Boo I.C.U." was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Marron-Manginello Neonatal Endowment Fund. There is no charge for the service.