Parents and out-of-town loved ones can see newborns through secure Internet service

Newport News, Va. –  A $28,000 donation by former Newport News resident Kristi Wells will install two webcams in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riverside Regional Medical Center.

The webcams allow parents, deployed fathers, out-of-town family members and others the chance to see newborns who aren't ready to leave
the hospital.


The system, created by Louisville, Ky.-based Nicview, provides a secure video stream over the web. Parents are issued user names and
passwords to share with friends and family.

"Parents can log on to any Internet, smartphone, iPad, and be able to see the baby," said Lena Anderson, a registered nurse and nurse manager for the NICU and labor and delivery.

"We get quite a few military families, and you have dads who are in, say, Afghanistan, or deployed," Anderson said. "A lot of times, because of the sheer length of time that the baby's in the NICU, the grandma in another state can't keep coming back and forth. This just gives them another opportunity to show off the baby."

Jason and Kristi Wells are a military family stationed in Montgomery, Ala., with plans to relocate to Hampton Roads in June. They were living
in Newport News in February 2011 when she went into labor 10 weeks early. She delivered twin boys at Riverside Regional Medical Center, and they spent the next 47 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Two weeks into their stay, Jason received orders for Afghanistan. He left shortly after the babies were released.

"It definitely wasn't the easiest two years of my life," Kristi Wells said.

Kristi Wells' parents, who live in Charlotte, N.C., flew in to see the babies when they could. With no family locally, and with the amount
of time she spent at Riverside, Kristi Wells said the NICU staff became her family during those six weeks. That's why she made the donation through a foundation her parents established.

"We really wanted to do it as a thank you for all that they did, and all the care and love and support that went out to me, my kids, my
family for those 47 days," Wells said. "They were phenomenal."

Riverside staff came up with the idea of using the money for the Nicview system. 

"With everyone coming in and Jason leaving, I think that's what gave them the inspiration of Nicview," Wells said. "I think it's incredible. I look back and remember all the times that I basically had panic attacks just worrying about the boys. I would wake up in the middle of the night and call the NICU to find out how they were doing and what their stats were, and the staff was always so kind. The opportunity to actually go online and view your baby and have that peace of mind as a parent, as a grandparent, is an opportunity that's very exciting."

The Nicview system will be installed at two beds. Eventually, Anderson hopes to make the service available at every NICU bed.
Riverside is licensed for 22 NICU beds. Riverside Regional Medical Center offers the only NICU on the Peninsula.


Published: February 2, 2013