SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — It can be a joyous moment when many families find out they’re expecting a new baby.
Realizing that mother has gone into labor during a pandemic can add unwanted stress for a parent, especially if that meant loved ones couldn’t be there for the life-changing moment.
Nearly 300 babies have been born at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier since the start of the cornoavirus outbreak. The neonatal intensive care unit already had strict disinfecting and handwashing procedures in place because of the delicate nature of these tiny, premature babies.
“We are kind of fanatical about handwashing everyone that comes in, the screening, that’s not new,” said Christy Bailey, clinical director for CHRISTUS NICU. “The face masks are new.
"And with the pandemic, we’re just keeping it to mom and dad and only one at a time, which can be really, really hard because you want them to bond as a family unit.”
The NICU has since added more restrictions, requiring face masks and only one person can visit baby at a time. That meant the hospitals NIC-VIEW cameras, a gift from the Children's Miracle Network, had to work overtime.
The cameras allow family members who couldn't be there for the birth, or who weren't allowed to go in to see the new bundle, to watch the baby from inside their rooms.
“I’m going to ask any grandma, any grandpa, any aunt or uncle out there, if you knew that your loved one was born and you weren’t going to be able to see them for who knows how long, what would you give to be able to get a glimpse of them and that’s what it does?” said Amy Heron, CHRISTUS Foundation director.
“In the last year alone, we’ve had 30,000 times that family members, far and wide, have logged in to see their babies. We had about 5,000 last week. Our average is usually 2,000 or maybe 3,000, so it’s doubled.
"Because of CMN funds, we were able to put these specialized cameras on these beds. What’s more important than keeping families connected?”
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals invested $70,000 by purchasing 12 cameras for the CHRISTUS NICU. The unit has the capacity for 21 beds, so adding more would be another $60,000 investment.
The foundation doesn’t have immediate plans to buy any more of the NIC-VIEW cameras because there’s a great need for other equipment inside the NICU. Just a few months ago, your donations went toward three high-tech “giraffe beds.” They keep the baby warm, monitor weight and can do X-rays without even moving the baby. These cost about $40,000 each.
The pandemic also meant the annual CHRISTUS NICU reunion will look much different this year. Instead of holding an “in-person” reunion with nurses, doctors, medical staffers and babies cared for inside either the old Schumpert location or at Highland, families can share their child’s success stories virtually on a special Facebook page. CHRISTUS has asked people to go to the Virtual NICU Reunion 2020 and sign up to attend the virtual reunion July 19.
“It will be hard not to see the babies in person this year, but we know why we’re doing it and we know how important it is,” said Bailey.