Family Finds Comfort in Texas Health’s Peek-A-Boo NICU Camera Program
What started as a very uneventful pregnancy for Maggie and Colin Jefferson took a significant turn at just 24 gestational weeks. During a routine checkup with her OB/GYN, it was discovered that Maggie’s cervix was already beginning to dilate. Cervical insufficiency, as it is often called, can lead to premature birth. For Maggie and Colin, the diagnosis meant an immediate change of plans.
The couple, who lives south of Denton, had made arrangements to deliver at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound. But when complications arose, Maggie’s physician recommended that she deliver at a hospital with a higher level of pre- and post-natal support and that she enlist an OB/GYN who could be closer at hand. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano became the hospital of choice and medical staff member Steven MacDonald, M.D., of OB-GYN Associates of North Dallas, became Maggie’s new obstetrician.
With one of the area’s largest High-Risk Pregnancy Care units and a 45-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Texas Health Plano is equipped to provide 24-hour comprehensive care to premature, high-risk and ill infants and their parents-to-be. Maggie was quickly admitted on the High-Risk unit and put on strict bedrest.
“I was nervous about the experience of being put on bedrest and I worried about the possibility of getting depressed,” Maggie admitted. “But, the nurses were absolutely amazing and I had great support from family and friends. I was rarely alone. Even Dr. MacDonald checked in on me every morning.”
After five and a half weeks on bedrest, Maggie’s water broke. Babies Ellison and Ian made their entrance into the world at a mere 2 pounds, 14 ounces and 3 pounds, 3 ounces ¾ respectively. Being extremely underdeveloped and underweight, the twins were in need of around-the-clock monitoring and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to assist them in breathing from the start. Their needs were well-met in the hospital’s NICU.
The new challenge for Maggie and Colin became how to remain connected to their fragile newborns while residing some 25 miles away from the hospital. Thanks to advanced technology and Texas Health Plano’s innovative Peek-A-Boo NICU program, the couple didn’t have to search long and hard for a solution.
“Our Peek-A-Boo NICU cameras are a phenomenal way for our families to leave the NICU to decompress and care for themselves without having to feel removed from their babies,” explained Michelle Kelly, RN, BSN, RNC-NIC, clinical nurse manager of the Texas Health Plano NICU.
The Jeffersons were provided with the hospital’s Peek-A-Boo cameras, which have allowed them to watch Ellison and Ian in the NICU via a secure Web interface when they can’t be present at the hospital. Other family members who can’t visit the NICU have also gotten to meet the twins this way.
“I cannot imagine having babies in the NICU without the cameras,” Maggie said. “We have iPads on our nightstands so we can watch Ellison and Ian every night and wake up with them every morning.”
“The NICU nurses are so supportive as well. Nurse Viji leaves little notes on the twins’ beds so we can see via camera how they have improved overnight. Faye and Gracy (nurses) were very helpful in my recovery from the C-section and getting Colin up to speed on how to change diapers. We are super blessed to have these people and technology working for us,” she added.
The Power of Pay-It-Forward
The night of the twins’ births, Maggie’s mother saw a story in The Dallas Morning News about the Skaggs family who lost their young daughter Leighton in the NICU at Texas Health Plano. The premature death inspired the family to create Leighton’s Gift, a charity through which they raised money to fund the installation of the first cameras in the hospital’s NICU. Maggie’s mom soon realized that her family is now benefiting from the cameras and she made a donation to the fund. The Jeffersons are also paying the charitable gift forward and have elicited Colin’s employer to make a contribution towards additional cameras.
As for Ellison and Ian, they may be unaware of the eyes that loving watch over them from afar but they continue to grow and progress in the NICU. Maggie and Colin look forward to bringing their twins home in the coming weeks.
“It has been wonderful to see our current families pay it forward by donating funds for additional cameras for others coming into the NICU behind them,” said Kelly. “We are so grateful to the Skaggs family for bringing Leighton’s Gift to fruition.”
For more information about the program, click here.