The Meaning of Care Magazine
Anytime, Anywhere: New Virtual Care Platform at Methodist Women's Hospital Will Help Keep NICU Families ConnectedPublished: Dec. 12, 2022
Happy. Rambunctious. Full of love for big sister Stella. That’s how Kim Cappellano describes her 2-year-old son, Emerson.
“He smiles a lot,” she said.
And he’s overcome a lot, too. Born nine weeks premature at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – March 22, 2020 – Emerson spent the first two months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Methodist Women’s Hospital.
“The NICU is a community, and anyone who goes through the challenge recognizes that,” Kim said.
Methodist Women’s Hospital cares for almost 800 babies in its NICU each year. It’s an incredibly stressful time for parents like Kim and her husband, Vince. They want to be within arm’s reach while their newborn is most vulnerable. But NICU stays can last weeks or months, and parents can’t always be there. That separation can lead to depression, sleepless nights, anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
“You can run yourselves ragged,” Kim said. “It’s hard for all families.”
To keep families connected and help them maintain balance, Methodist Women’s Hospital is investing in innovation. A new virtual care platform, funded by philanthropy, will offer secure live-stream patient viewing to NICU parents and family members anywhere, anytime. The system, expected to come online in late 2023, will also allow for information sharing and engagement with a family’s care team through video, pictures and texts.
“It will help alleviate that nervous, anxious energy at 2 a.m.,” Kim said. “You can look at the camera and take a deep breath. You know what’s happening.”
Kim believes the cameras also would have helped with sibling bonding. She recalls how Stella, then 3, couldn’t visit the NICU due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I could have shown Stella, ‘This is your little brother.’ It makes it real.”
The new virtual care platform, which Kim sees as a “mental health initiative” for new parents, is part of a broader expansion at Methodist Women’s Hospital. Construction is underway on 14 additional NICU rooms. The extra space will reduce frequent overflow to adult care areas, opening more beds for adult patients.
Methodist Hospital Foundation is spearheading the $16.3 million fundraising campaign called For All Women. The campaign also will enhance the hospital’s ability to serve more women in rural communities and support additional outreach for the underserved.
Kim said Emerson, who spent 18 months on supplemental oxygen, has made tremendous progress. She’s grateful to Methodist for the role it’s played in the life of her family – which will soon be growing again. She and Vince are expecting identical twins in February.
“Given this next journey that we’re on currently, we know this care we’ve received is critical, and we know the NICU is a community that needs to be supported,” Kim said.
To support the For All Women campaign and help strengthen health care for all women in the region, please visit MethodistHospitalFoundation.org/ForAllWomen.
- Read more from the winter 2022 issue of The Meaning of Care Magazine.
- Learn more about the Methodist Hospital Foundation.
- Find out more about the $16.3 million expansion underway at Methodist Women’s Hospital.