ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Janiya Colon hasn't left the hospital since she was born three weeks ago. But her mother, at home, has been able to keep an eye on her every day since.
Jacelia Colon has watched her baby on a near-constant basis since her Jan. 16 birthday, using her computer and her smartphone.
That's because of BabyCam, a new technology at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township that lets some parents remotely view live footage of their babies in real time.
"I'm really glad they have this because I'd probably be living in this hospital if they didn't," said Jacelia Colon, 22, who lives in Bethlehem with her husband, 25-year-old Samuel Colon.
"I always feel like she's there," Jacelia Colon said. "Even though she's not in the house, I always feel her presence with me."
The hospital has installed webcam systems on nine of the 40 bassinets in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which cares primarily for premature babies.
Using a password-protected system, families can remotely access them via computer or smartphone 24 hours a day. Jacelia has family living as far away as Florida who log in to watch the baby.
"You can have grandparents in Alaska, and any time they log in they can see their grandchild without making a big trip," Lehigh Valley Health Network President Ronald Swinfard said Tuesday in announcing the technology.
A premature baby can be hospitalized as long as four months. Hospital officials say BabyCam not only affords families peace of mind but prevents the disruption of a crucial bonding period between parent and child.
"That's a really critical time for the baby and for the parents to begin to form that family unit," said Dr. Lorraine Dickey, medical director of the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The technology provides a tremendous amount of relief for Colon, who lost her first baby when he was prematurely born 22 weeks into pregnancy.
When Janiya was also born prematurely at 27 weeks, it caused her a lot of fear. She was 1 pound and 15 ounces when she was born but is now healthy.
"Leaving her was really hard for me, so this whole thing has been great," Jacelia said.
Swinfard said the first cameras were installed in October, and he hopes to have cameras for all the hospital's bassinets within six months.
Dickey said 28 families have used the technology so far, with a total of 6,000 viewing hours between them.
One family alone viewed their baby for 800 hours. Dickey said they streamed the feed directly to their television and simply left it on all day.
The BabyCam technology was developed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Swinfard said Lehigh Valley Hospital is the first hospital outside UAMS to receive the technology, which is expected to be expanded to other hospitals in the future.
Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com