PHOENIX — A Valley hospital is finding a new way to connect loved ones to their little ones.
Within the past three weeks, HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center fully launched a new camera system, known as angel eye, to help families who have babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.
The 42 cameras allow families, through an app, to constantly keep an eye on their newborn.
"With COVID, we actually have shut down to parents only," said Mary Luster, the senior clinical director in the NICU. "So, poor grandparents who, if they have a baby in the NICU for two, three months, they never get to see that baby in person."
The camera system was two years in the making and the result of a generous donation.
"Average length of stay is probably about three weeks, but if you're born at 24 weeks and you're supposed to go to 40 weeks, you have to plan on being here for 16 weeks," Luster said. "That's a very long time, especially when...only parents can come and visit."
Of course, parents can't stay in the room around the clock, and the camera system provides relief throughout the day.
"It's peace of mind," said mother Kacy Schmidt, who has a son, Kash, in the NICU. "I have my daughter at home, I have my son here, so when I'm at home I can actually check up on him."
Schmidt works at a different HonorHealth hospital and told ABC15 her twin children were born on December 23 at just 27 weeks. Kash's twin sister has since gone home, but he remains in the NICU.
"I was terrified," Schmidt said. "I was expecting to go 30, maybe 33 weeks, I knew with twins I would be early but not that early."
Schmidt told ABC15 her family has enjoyed using the camera system to keep an eye on Kash.
"They actually feel like they're more involved with him now, since they can't be with him in person," Schmidt said. "They actually get to see him and see him moving."
Luster told ABC15 they are working to add an additional six cameras.
Schmidt said it has brought new memories to her family.
"I've had multiple times when they'd say, 'look at him he's turning his head, he opened his eyes," Schmidt said.