OCEANSIDE, Calif. - A local hospital is offering the first-of-its-kind program in the county aimed at bringing families closer. Tri-City Medical Center is connecting parents with their premature infants when they cannot be at their bedside.
Sara Orejel and Gergorio Velasco come to the hospital to watch over their son twice a day. Their son Andrew, who is 45 days old, was born nearly three months early, weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces.
When Orejel and Velasco cannot be at the hospital, they can still see Andrew because of a softball-sized camera called the NICVIEW placed just above his incubator.
"They were telling me about the cameras and I was excited because sometimes I get lonely," said Orejel. "I want to see my baby at 3 or 4 in the morning."
Tri-City Medical Center is San Diego County's first hospital to offer parents like these a secure online place to view their infant. Parents can even see their infant from their cellphone.
Nurse Nancy Myers said she has never seen anything like it.
"Being able to have the cameras and see the baby get better and grow… it's just a priceless opportunity," said Myers, who is the nurse manager of Tri-City's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Local military families who may be on deployment overseas will also be able to take advantage of the program.
"Whatever mode that is available to them, they will be able to view the baby even from the most sensitive areas in the world," added Myers.
NICVIEW cameras were turned on one week ago. Since that time, there have been more than 300 viewings by families. The 25 NICVIEW cameras were purchased by a $50,000 donation from the Tri-City Hospital Foundation.
Orejel's mother in Mexico saw Andrew for the first time on Monday morning through the NICVIEW camera.
"She was very excited because when she knew I had the baby, she was crying because she couldn't see him," said Orejel.
Seeing their son 24 hours a day makes all the difference to this Vista family, since he is still too small to come home.