Beverly Knight Children’s Hospital connects families, babies through mobile app

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Beverly Knight Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health is keeping parents and babies connected through a new app during the pandemic.  

The hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rolled out a new mobile app called Vocera Ease. It allows caretakers to send secure texts and photos to an infants’ loved one in real-time.

NNICU can now connect families to their infants, thanks to a grant from Pampers.

Pampers calls it the Bright Beginnings NICU Connectivity Grant, which helps with cameras and tablets allowing loved ones to talk, read and sing to their babies virtually in the age of COVID.

First-time Mother Alana Alvarez says she gave birth to her daughter Grace on Thanksgiving Day 2020 after an emergency C-section. Grace weighed only 14 ounces.

“She had to go into the NNICU and this is my first child so I didn’t know anything about it. Or how the NNICU worked,” said Alanna.  

Alanna eventually had to return to work, leaving little Gracie at the hospital.

Enter the EASE App 

That’s where the EASE App came in.

“The app has really been a lifesaver for me,” said Alanna.

The app’s Senior Vice President Patrick de la Roza says the mission of the EASE app is simple — to ease the stress of parent and baby. 

Parents can download the app, register, and invite who they want to receive texts or photos. 

De la Roza says the infant’s medical bracelet connects the baby to its parent’s registry. 

“For security reasons and HIPPA compliance all of our messages disappear after 60 seconds,” said De la Roza. 

Alanna says she screenshots the photos and sends them to her family and friends.

“It’s one picture that may help her get through that one moment of the day that makes it all worth it to us,” said Director of Pediatric and Women’s Services Missi Upshaw.

Upshaw says the app connects families, while hospitals have limited visitor policies due to COVID. 

Upshaw says the hospital’s NNICU cares for more than 700 infants each year in central and south Georgia. 

Alana says she is lucky that Grace is one of those infants. 

“Gracie at the NNICU she is doing great,” said Alvarez. 

Upshaw says the hospital hopes to use the app in other departments. The app is also downloadable for smartphone users.