How a Winnipeg hospital is helping parents stay connected to babies in the NICU

A simple idea has been keeping Manitoba families connected with babies needing a longer stay in hospital.

The NICU at St. Boniface Hospital uses an app called V-Create. It allows nurses take pictures on an iPad when the family members aren’t there and send the pictures to them.

Kelly Burtnyk’s daughter Annie spent 88 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when she was born. Kelly says she has photos of many precious moments that staff at the hospital were able to capture.

“Sometimes you would get pictures and you have FOMO (fear of missing out).’Oh no she’s doing something and we’re missing out because I’m not there to see it,'” said Kelly.

Cheryl Staerk, a clinical resource nurse at St. Boniface Hospital, said app has been used for the last year and a half and has helped normalize parenting.

“As parents, we take pictures of our babies all the time. Even though they’re not taking the picture, they are still getting those pictures,” said Staerk.

She added it also aligns with the unit’s commitment to family integrated care.

“The more involved parents are, the better the outcomes,” she said. “We also know that parents are more confident when they can be with their babies as much as possible.”

For Kelly, she said there is one picture of Annie she got on Christmas morning which she considers the most memorable.

“It was hard enough not being there on Christmas and Christmas morning we woke to pictures of her without her CPAP mask on. So it was the first time we saw her face and that was just a special moment,” said Kelly.

She added the most reassuring pictures were the ones of her sleeping after a tough day.

“I just know she was well looked after, that she was being cared for. It didn’t make me feel like I was missing out on something really big and important. It was just those moments of, ‘She’s ok. I can look after myself because I know she’s fine.'”

Kelly said her daughter is 13 months now and is adjusted and hitting all the milestones like walking and talking.

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