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Someone to watch over me: NICU cameras let parents see preemies

January 6, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Kathleen O'Brien / The Star-Ledger

Rachna Dave experienced a first this past weekend: She actually took her time eating breakfast.

Her normal routine has been to grab a quick bite on her way out the door to Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, where her infant son has been spending the first 2� months of his life.

She had hoped visits coincided with one of his periods of wakefulness, so she could rub his back and teach him the sound of her voice.


But now she can simply check a live-streaming web camera on her iPad. When she saw her son, Veer, was sleeping, she decided she had the time to linger at the breakfast table.

"It's wonderful. I absolutely love it," said Dave, whose experience as a first-time mother has involved twice-a-day commutes from her home in Somerset to Saint Peter's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her son weighed just 2 pounds, 11 ounces at birth.


Neonatologist Mark Hiatt, director of the NICU, said he thought the cameras would be a great way to reassure the chronically worried parents of his preemie patients.

But he said he had no idea how popular the cameras would be until he saw the data from the couple who tested the first unit: Over three weeks, they peeked in on their newborn more than 620 times.

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