Henry Mayo sets up live video cam for preemie baby in NICU

Zachary DeChellis pictured at seven days old at the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital NICU. DeChellis was born at 26 weeks gestation and weighed less than two pounds. Photo courtesy of Henry Mayo.

A new technology at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital has allowed the Canyon Country-based DeChellis family to have a round-the-clock video feed of their son and grandson who was born preterm.

Zachary Leonidas DeChellis was born on Feb. 1 at 26 weeks’ gestation, weighing 1.6 pounds. He was immediately brought into NICU care at the hospital after having been born so early.

During normal times, and not during a global pandemic, the family would be able to regularly visit their newest member. But because of COVID-19 the rules at the hospital have needed to be altered: only his mom and dad are allowed to visit, and then only one at a time.

However, the caretakers at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital offered the DeChellis family an opportunity to be one of the first to try out a technology that has been in the works for two years: NicView.

NicView, a round-the-clock live video stream focused solely on a particular baby within the NICU when the infant is not being directly treated by staff, allows for Zachary’s family to view him at all hours of the day. And for them, they say, it’s been an extraordinary service by the hospital.

“It was his first week there and they asked me if I was interested in having the camera on him, in which I’d be able to look at him on my phone,” said Christina DeChellis, Zachary’s mom. “Of course, I said ‘yes,’ like instantaneously.”

DeChellis said only she and her husband are allowed to visit in person presently, but the camera has allowed her entire family to look at Zachary in his crib in the NICU — if he’s not being treated by the staff at the time.

The other family members who have made use of the camera, and use it “all the time,” said Christina, were her in-laws, also Canyon Country-based.

“Well, it just gives you a lot of hope when your kid or grandkid is in the NICU,” said Kathy DeChillis, Zachary’s grandmother. “You know there’s always that fear that something could go wrong, and being able to see them just provides kind of a comfort. You can see everything is going well, and you’re not just hearing words; you’re seeing it.”

“We just happened to finally implement it just a couple of weeks ago, which has been really great timing,” said Amanda Patey, a clinical manager at Henry Mayo. “With COVID being an extra challenge on the horizon for families and limited visitation in the hospital, we are grateful that we are able to finally go live with it and it’s been a hit with our families.”

Patey said the hospital was able to purchase the equipment and will be able to offer the service to families moving forward. And the already-facilitated bonding through the program for parents and their kids has alluded to its future success.

“Even if they’re not physically present with them, it’s that connection that they feel like they’re actively there with the baby,” said Patey. “The whole family feels bonded while keeping the baby safe.”

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