SAN ANTONIO - University Hospital has become the first hospital to install a new type of technology that allows parents of premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit to watch their newborn 24/7.
It’s called Angel Eye, a webcam designed to give parents an unlimited live view of their child when they can’t be in the NICU.
Deborah Stark is one of the first mothers to be able to utilize Angel Eye, which was installed a week ago above son Rigman’s crib in the NICU at University.
She and the baby’s father live in West Texas, so prior to that, she could only see him on visits.
"I think the hardest part is just being so far away since we're not from San Antonio," she said of those long months when she was living at the Ronald McDonald House or back at her restaurant business hundreds of miles away.
Today, no matter where she physically is, she can see her baby.
“It’s been really great. I just leave it on all the time on my computer when I'm home so I can see him,” Stark said.
Stark's mother lives in Austin and her husband's parents live in Michigan. They, too, can access the livestream.
Angel Eye gives parents a password that they can then distribute to anyone they wish to see the baby. All a user needs is an email address and a cellphone, tablet or computer.
The nurses in the NICU are now trained to operate the cameras, which were paid for by the University Health System Foundation. The hospital is the first in San Antonio to utilize the technology and one of the first in the state.
NICU Nurse Educator Priscilla Chavez believes it’s the hospital’s job to do whatever it must to improve the bonds that parents can establish with their babies while forced to receive oftentimes prolonged medical care in the unit.
Providing a link to parents while they go to work, school or their distant homes can help that bond.
"We are also working on virtual rounds so that when the doctors come around to talk to the nurse about the patient, so that the family member can actually be present if they are not actually here," said Chavez.
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