Innovation enhances infant care in Niagara

Members of Niagara Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with the video technology. Photo credit: Will Foran, Niagara Health

By Steven Gallagher

Niagara Health’s tiniest patients are receiving enhanced care thanks to new technology in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

When NICU team members at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site need to consult specialists on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) in Hamilton, they can now connect through video.

The video connection, through the Ontario Telemedicine Network, gives the MCH team a bird’s-eye view of the patient, their vital signs and other important information. The MCH team can control the view, as well as listen and speak to the team at Niagara Health about a baby’s condition.

Previously, these consultations happened over the phone. Now that the McMaster team can see the baby, a more detailed plan of care can be put into place.

“The ability for the Niagara Health and MCH teams to work together as if they were in the same room is another significant advancement in infant care in Niagara,” says Dr. Madan Roy, Deputy Chief of Pediatrics at MCH and Chief of Pediatrics at Niagara Health. “This collaborative approach ensures we are being comprehensive and providing the best quality of care.”

The video technology, a mobile unit that can be used anywhere in the NICU, may also reduce the need for patients to be transferred from Niagara to Hamilton for follow-up care.

“Having a sick baby is stressful enough, so anytime we can provide care closer to home is important for our patients and their families,” says Carol Munro, Clinical Manager of the NICU and Children’s Health Unit at Niagara Health. “Being able to connect through video with the MCH team is very reassuring for our physicians and multi-disciplinary staff.”

The NICU partnership is another example of Niagara Health and McMaster Children’s Hospital collaborating on an innovative project to enhance patient care. In 2019, the Pediatric Tele-resuscitation system, the first-of-its-kind system in Ontario, was launched. The system uses video conferencing-like technology to allow Emergency Department teams from Niagara Health and McMaster Children’s Hospital to remotely work together to care for pediatric patients who are critically ill.

Steven Gallagher works in communications at Niagara Health.