First in Philadelphia Area:
Family Members 'Visiting' Newborn Babies by Live Video – From Anywhere in the World!
(Adapted in part from The Philadelphia Inquirer article of May 5, 2000, by Marie McCullough.)
Thanks to a new interactive videophone system at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, family members living as far away as California or Alaska – or anywhere in the world – can "visit" newborns at the hospital's maternity suite.
The "visiting" occurs by two-way live video and audio transmission as shown in these photos of the new service's debut in the Philadelphia area May 4.
One-day-old Maggy Skylar Egan – all 5 pounds, 4 ounces of her – was the big star of the videoconferencing service's debut.
"I think she has your eyes," new mom Tricia Emmerman of Merion Station said to her grandfather as she watched him on a TV monitor in her maternity room.
From the comfort of his home in Brooklyn, NY, Teddy Emmerman was able to watch his new great-granddaughter scrunch up her face and hear her tiny whimpers.
"We're both attorneys, and we've used videoconferencing for business purposes," Jerome Egan told The Inquirer as he sat on his wife's bed, stroking their daughter's wisps of brown hair. "But we had never heard of this until we came for a hospital tour."
"I think my grandfather was thrilled," Ms. Emmerman said. "He wouldn't have been able to make the trip here for a long time."
How the Two-Way Service Works
The two-way service works as well from a location around the corner as from around the world.
Access Family TV, a two-year-old company based in Nashville, TN, has placed its videophone system in more than 500 hospitals in the United States.
"We are excited to be the first hospital in our area to offer this service to our patients," says Thomas J. Lewis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
"The first hours after birth are the most precious moments for a family. With close relatives living so far apart today, Access Family TV fills a real need by enabling instant audio and video communication," he adds.
Jefferson University Hospital's maternity suite consists of 28 private rooms geared toward providing the ultimate in comfort for mother and child.
To use the new service, expectant parents provide the name and address of those they wish to receive the Access Family TV link to the company. Once the mother is admitted to the hospital for delivery, for a small fee, Access Family TV sends a unit overnight to the designated locations. With the equipment in place, the new parents can begin the transmission to show off their baby whenever they choose. The parties then can see and speak with each other, regardless of the distance between them – around the corner or around the globe.
Photography by Robert Neroni