Angel Eye Cameras Allow Parent-Infant Connection in NICU

Kelly Covents’ family lives nearly 2,000 miles away in Iowa, yet they get an up-close interaction with Convents’ premature daughter — who is currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Overlake Medical Center — with the help of an Angel Eye camera.

Covents was due to give birth Feb. 4, but was induced six weeks early after being diagnosed with preeclampsia. The high blood pressure condition can be devastating for pregnant women, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke.

Kelly Covents adjusts the Angel Eye camera so it’s trained on her infant daughter, Paisley.

“What happened with me was my blood pressure spiked high and then my vision went bad and I started vomiting.” she said. “I went to (Overlake) and they said, ‘Thank God, you came in, because it’s common to have a seizure with high blood pressure.’”

Covents spent Dec. 15, her birthday, in a slight panic. Her house was in shambles, her 11-year-old daughter was due to fly to Iowa the next day, and now she was admitted to the hospital for an undetermined amount of time.

During Covents’ stay at the Bellevue-based hospital, she was given a tour of the NICU where her daughter soon would reside. That is where she first learned of the 13 cameras in each NICU room that enables parents and family to see and speak to the baby while he or she is in the hospital.

Doctors induced her nine days later on Dec. 24. Baby Paisley was born at 6 a.m. Dec. 25 weighing exactly 5 pounds.

Covents, who lives in Bothell, makes it over to the hospital every day to visit with Paisley, but her boyfriend’s work schedule keeps him away during the week days. “It’s good for Justin because during the work week, I got home (from the hospital) when he gets off work so we don’t come back,” she said. “So other than my pictures and videos, he wouldn’t see her.”

The Angel Eye program has an app that allows viewers to see and speak to the baby while he or she is in the NICU.

Family and friends check in using the Angel Eye camera on a daily basis to see Paisley, and Covents’ older daughter was able to see her newborn sister while she was away in Iowa. Being able to watch Paisley on screen as Covents pumps breast milk has been a major motivator for her to keep at it every three hours. It’s also been heart warming to see how caring and attentive the nurses are when she’s away.

Sarah Metroka, systems analyst at Overlake, said the medical center has been wanting to put cameras in the NICU for years because most parents continue to work or have family out of state. Grandparents in Ireland have already tuned in to see and talk to their grandchild via the Angel Eye camera. The one-way microphone is translated at 45 decibels, so the sound always comes through to the baby as a whisper.

Once parents download the app and create an account, the primary account holder can share the link with anyone they like, and the accounts can be paused or suspended at the primary account holder’s discretion.

The program can be translated into 60 languages, including the chat feature that allows all the account members to instant message each other, and the parents to message the nurses. And it’s HIPPA encrypted, so security measures are in place, and account holders can only see their designated infant.

“Every parent I’ve talked to absolutely loves it,” Metroka said.

The NICU is currently at capacity with 13 rooms, but the with the imminent $250 million Overlake campus renovation, the hospital will likely construct additional NICU rooms and purchase more cameras.

Overlake is currently the only hospital in the area that has a camera for every NICU room, Metroka said. EvergreenHealth in Kirkland recently purchased a few cameras that are rotated between rooms.

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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