Born at 29 weeks, long before his April 13 due date, Zaden Evans isn’t expected to go home anytime soon.
And while his mom, Michaela Evans, comes up from Santaquin daily to spend a few hours with the feisty newborn, having a 16-month-old daughter at home makes managing time tricky. So when the Evans want to see Zaden, they pulls up a camera feed of him on their phone or iPad.
“Seeing him helps a lot,” Evans said.
Cameras allowing parents to livestream their baby were installed two weeks ago in the neonatal intensive care unit at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem. A dozen NICU beds already have the cameras, with four more being installed.
The hospital says it’s the only one in Utah with the cameras.
Sandy Ewell, chief nursing officer at Timpanogos Regional Hospital, said NICUs are isolating for families and can cause a lot of anxiety. While other parents can walk down the hall to check on their baby, NICU parents are often miles away.
Previously, nurses held up iPads and used FaceTime so families could interact with babies.
“From the time we’d seen what it could do, we had a desire to get something better,” Ewell said.
The hospital received a grant to fund the first 12 cameras.
Nurses can write notes that appear on parents’ screens to give updates on how the infants are doing, like alerting them if the baby was moved to a different crib, if they got a bath or how much they’re growing.
Brooke Fonohema, a NICU nurse, tries to write at least one note a day for parents. Fonohema said the notes help answer a lot of parents’ questions they used to call and ask.
The nurses are still getting used to the cameras, but have received a lot of positive feedback in the two weeks they have been installed.
“We love it,” Fonohema said. “It’s a great thing for parents and grandparents.”
For Zach Evans, who is a student at Utah Valley University in Orem, he can check on his son between classes or during breaks at work without going to the hospital. The Evans have also shared the login information for Zaden’s camera with family members who are unable to see him so they too can watch him sleep and wiggle around.
The family’s experience with Zaden, who was born on Jan. 30, has been different than their experience with her daughter, Mackley. Mackley was in the NICU for 13 days after she was born, but Michaela Evans was allowed to feed and hold her right away.
“There were a few days where we couldn’t even hold him,” she said.
Michaela Evans was able to be with Mackley all day when she was in the NICU. But with work, the drive from Santaquin and a toddler, she’s not able to spend as much time at the hospital as she did when her daughter was born.
Mackley, who isn’t allowed in the NICU, has only seen her baby brother through the live cameras and pictures. On Wednesday, she pointed to her parents’ iPad as they pulled up the livestream of Zaden. They’re hoping that when it’s time to finally bring Zaden home, she’ll know who he is.
When Michaela Evans isn’t at the hospital, she’ll pull up the camera feed on her phone throughout the day, when she’s talking to Mackley about Zaden or when Evans is pumping milk.