Nobody wants to spend the holidays in the hospital. For parents of children in the NICU at Golisano Children's Hospital, there is a special device which lets parents stay close to their babies — even when they can't always be there. Now, the hospital is trying to ensure every family has the opportunity to experience it.
If every baby is a gift, A.J. Gall and fiancée Brianna got two of them.
“We got pretty much the jackpot,” said Gall.
Their two presents came three months early: Twins born in June. Aubrey was delivered at 3:04 a.m. Her brother Andrew came a minute later. Both had serious medical issues tied to their premature birth. Aubrey went home several months ago. But Andrew is still in the hospital.
“It's the emotional struggle of spending a long time in the NICU, and the comings and goings,” said Gall.
The struggle is compounded during the holidays. As parents, they can’t always be at the hospital. But technology gives them the next best thing.
“Live broadcast. Here we go,” said Gall, clicking onto an app on his phone.
“We’re moving! Here’s my boy," he said.
The system is called Angel Eye Camera. The camera is attached to the child’s crib. Parents are able to check up on their children by phone or computer, capturing their every movement in real time.
Gall says it gives the family comfort.
“Because we have twins — and even without twins — I don't think it's feasible to be here 24-7,” he said.
Golisano Children’s has 20 Angel Eye cameras. But the hospital NICU averages between 70 and 80 babies a day. Because of that, the hospital is now seeking donations, so that every family can have access to the cameras.
“Life happens,” said Dr. Jeff Meyers, medical director. “I think for families this is something that helps reduce the stress and anxiety they must be experiencing with having a baby in the NICU."
After seven months in the NICU, Andrew isn't ready to go home just yet. Recent setbacks include pneumonia and sepsis. But, his dad says, he is getting close.
“We're looking forward to taking him home,” he said. “So we don't have to say goodbye to him every day."
In the meantime, his parents can rest easy — knowing they can still keep an eye on their little angel.
“Until he comes home, it's nice to have the peace of mind that I can look at him whenever I want to," he said.