AngelEye helps parents keep watch over babies in NICU

Mary Beth Lambert is thankful any time she gets to see her son, even if it's only on the screen of her phone.

Lambert's son, Cameron, is currently in the neonatal intensive care unit at Spartanburg Medical Center. Using a technology called AngelEye, Lambert and her family can keep track of Cameron when they're away from the hospital by viewing a live video feed of him while he's being fed and bathed.

"It helps; like, I can see if he's awake and we try to be up here when he's awake and alert, so there's more time for him to bond with us," she said.

AngelEye was rolled out at Spartanburg Medical Center at the beginning of the month.

Inside the NICU, there are 35 cameras, one for each bed in the unit.

About 400 babies are placed in the hospital's NICU each year, said Jessica Pickens, hospital spokeswoman.

Once mothers are given AngelEye login information, they can pull up the camera feed in real time, said Hope Garcia, NICU nurse manager.

The app also lets mothers message with nurses and doctors when they're at the baby's bedside.

Login information can be shared with other family members, but only mothers can use AngelEye to connect directly with hospital staff.

"We're lucky enough to have an AngelEye camera at every bed in the unit," Garcia said. "What happens is, a baby is in the NICU and you (a mother) go back to work or you have other children, families are all over the United States, so we get consent to use it. That way they can see their baby wherever they are."

The technology lets Lambert's other children, who can't visit the NICU because of infection concerns, and her husband's parents in Indiana check in on Cameron.

"Grandma is on there all the time," Lambert said. "She's not in very good health and can't come down and visit him all the time, so she's always watching."

Spartanburg Medical Center is the first hospital in the state to implement the technology, and has fully funded the program, said Elizabeth Kissinger, director of women's and children's services at the hospital.

Kissinger said the mothers of babies in the NICU appreciate how the technology allows them to see their children at any time.

"The nurse can tell her, 'I'm giving him a bath' or 'look at this cute hairstyle,'" she said. "You can wake up in the middle of the night, and instead of having to call, you can hop on and see, 'OK, is the baby good, everything's good.'"

Lambert, while grateful that AngelEye helps her stay close to Cameron, is ready to bring her baby home.

She said she can't wait for the day she's able to carry her son into the house, to be held by his father and siblings.

"He's doing well. We're very hopeful, very excited. We're hopeful he can come home soon," she said. "The 2-year-old asks all the time, 'Where's the baby?' He's a blessing. It has been a great experience" using AngelEye.