MU Women\'s and Children\'s Hospital Starts New Program For Infants

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COLUMBIA - University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital has started a new program to benefit families with infants in the newborn intensive care unit. 

Newborn Intensive Care Unit Director, Dr. John Pardalos, started the program known as Telehealth, Love and Care, or TLC. It's a free video service that gives families an opportunity to see and interact with their babies when families cannot be in the hospital.

"A mom may be able to be here but the dad may have to go back to work and they may be in another part of the state and it's a challenge for them to be able to see the baby all the time so this gives them a chance to be able to see their baby on a daily basis and stay in touch with what's going on with their care," said John Wood, an EMT with the Women's and Children's Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

The program utilizes iPads and Vidyo, a videoconferencing application similar to Skype, but Wood said that in order for families to use the service, all they need is a laptop or computer with camera capabilities, high-speed Internet and an email address.

"They are able to log into a remote website and create a password and then they can call the hospital and we're able to take an iPad and put it by the baby so they can interact and see the things their baby is doing while they're not here," said Wood.

The NICU has 20 iPads in use for videoconferencing but Wood said that number will expand along with the program.

"It'll be a fun system, it's going to take a little bit of learning for everybody to get used to the technology. I mean, technology has been developing for a while and now everyone's just starting to put it to use in their own ways," said Wood. 

Wood said the feedback from parents who have already used the program has been nothing but positive.

"I know the parents that we've talked to that have already used it were very grateful to have the capability to do this."

The TLC program is funded through Children's Miracle Network's annual Radiothon, the Missouri Telehealth Network and MOREnet.