HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — In Hendricks County, Indiana, a hospital is using technology to help mothers and babies bond when they’re forced to be apart.
It is not uncommon for mother and baby to be separated due to health issues immediately after birth, so in 2015 Hendricks Regional Health nurses decided to use Facetime to connect parents stuck in one part of the hospital while their baby is in the NICU. It seems simple, but because of cyber security and HIPAA regulations, it actually was a lot of work to get this all up and running.
Since then the hospital expanded the feature to include fathers who miss a birth because of military deployments or career obligations and even grandparents who are away. The nurses say it’s not ideal, but it’s proved helpful for families.
“Skin-to-skin is the best obviously for bonding and connection with mom and dad, so when you can’t do that right away, it’s the next best thing to help with that bonding,” Jamie Hutcheson, Hendricks Regional Health Registered Nurse, said. “They seem soothed sometimes when they can hear the mom or dad back and we’ve had siblings that have really latched onto the iPads in the room and talked to their brother or sister, it’s very cute.”
One mother from Greencastle used the iPads in December to connect with her daughter after preeclampsia forced her to have high blood pressure and her daughter to be born early.
“At the start it was pretty overwhelming and emotional, so it was just a game-changer for sure with my mood and just being able to see her move instead of just relying on pictures,” Stephanie Alcorn said.
One of the most helpful experiences for parents is when pediatricians can use the Facetime app to communicate with parents from the NICU, so they can see the baby during the briefing and any equipment being used to help that baby heal and thrive.
“With the Facetime, it was great. I got to actually see her moving. See what the nurses were doing. Talk with the nurse actually taking care of her and they were explaining things to me and walking me through what was going on,” Alcorn said.
Now, Hendricks Regional Health is hoping to use the iPads on hand to connect patients in different parts of the hospital. The nurses also want to work with other hospitals across central Indiana, since family members can often be separated to completely different facilities after an incident.