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Sparrow Hospital Uses New App To Connect With Parents Of Intensive Care Babies

Sparrow Hospital NICU photo
Scott Pohl
Kacey and Ben Wheeler visit baby Dax in Sparrow Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In the foreground is the EASE communication system.

A new messaging system is helping parents of babies in Sparrow Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit monitor how their newborns are doing.

The system is called EASE. It’s an app on a device at every baby’s bedside. Parents who install the app on their smartphones receive text messages and photos, and they also can watch a livestream of doctor visits when they can’t be there in person.

Kacey Wheeler of Lansing is using EASE after giving birth to her son Dax about nine weeks early. She says it "eases the anxiety a little bit about wondering what he’s doing while we’re gone and anything like that.”

NICU department manager Sarah Collins says updates are sent to parents who have installed the app on their smartphones. “The first bath, coming off CPAP, the first bottle, if they’re eating well," Collins explains. "We’ll do a quick, in the morning text like ‘this is how the night went,’ especially for our parents that can’t be here all the time when they have other kids at home or they’re working, because some babies are here for months at a time.”

Parents can reply to those texts from the system and then store messages and images. To preserve privacy, they are not kept by Sparrow.

Updates can also be shared with friends and relatives.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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