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Cameras keep families close to newborns

MANKATO — Dianna Heinze hasn’t gone far from her baby, Livia, since the newborn arrived.

But Livia’s birth six weeks early means she’ll remain in the hospital after her mother returns home soon.

Newly installed technology means Heinze and her family can keep an eye on her daughter even if she can’t be by her side around the clock.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato added AngelEye camera systems to its special care nursery unit in late February, The Free Press reported. Families gain access to streaming video of their babies through an app available on their phones, tablets or web browsers.

Parents who choose to use the system create an account with password protection to view a camera positioned alongside the baby. The parents can then share their log-in with other family members or friends.

Heinze, of Eagle Lake, learned about the technology before giving birth. Her family already has used it, while she plans to more once she’s discharged.

“We got really excited because we hadn’t even thought of something like that before,” she said. “It was pretty cool to know we’d get to watch her when we’re not here.”

In the past parents might introduce their newborns to family living far away through Facetime calls. The AngelEye cameras offer higher definition video and flexibility on when family members can check in on an infant.

Heinze said her older daughter, 7, uses the camera to gaze at her new baby sister. The 7-year-old was thrilled to become a big sister but can’t visit the nursery.

“I think that’s our big thing; our other daughter gets to look at her sister,” Heinze said.

About seven patients have used the camera system since it went live Feb. 20. The hospital’s special care nursery unit now has nine cameras total.

Along with relatives who live far away, the system could be useful during flu season if families are worried about spreading illnesses, said Tiffany Geib, Mayo in Mankato’s nurse manager for pediatrics.

“With influenza and respiratory viruses going around, it’s nice they can have family members see the babies when they’re not able to physically come in,” she said.