Neonatal ICU webcams help push Providence St. Joseph Medical Center to the top of social media ladder

A San Francisco-based startup called HYP3R recently ranked Providence St. Joseph Medical Center as the No. 1 hospital in the world in terms of social-media activity.

That ranking was determined by several factors — such as how many followers the hospital’s social-media pages have and the number of people mentioning the medical facility in their posts — and stacking them up against other hospitals around the world, according to HYP3R’s website.

Though the facility has taken a steep fall on the list from where it was in May, a recently adopted program at St. Joseph has proven to be one of the major reasons why there is so much activity at the hospital.

For the past 18 months, the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, at St. Joseph has been using a software program called NICVIEW, in which parents and loved ones can check to see how their newborn is doing by logging into a secure website and viewing a high-definition live-stream.

All 20 NICU beds in the hospital are equipped with a webcam slightly larger than an average Rubik’s cube that hovers over the newborn. The live-stream is on 24 hours a day and is only shut off by the request of the parents or if the baby is being changed or undergoing a medical procedure, said Mary Welch, assistant nurse manager of the NICU.

“It’s the marriage of technology with medicine,” said Dr. Robert Gall, medical director of the NICU at St. Joseph. “It’s really beautiful to see, and it’s a new way of being.”

Welch said that she can monitor all of the cameras from her desk and adjust the viewing angle by clicking a button on the program interface. Additionally, though the feed is on all the time, Welch said there is no audio with the video for privacy reasons.

The NICVIEW webcam has been particularly helpful for Burbank resident Katerina Wilson, who on April 30 gave birth to her son, Connor, 10 weeks early, and he needed to be brought to the NICU.

Connor weighed only 2 pounds, 15 ounces when he was born and went into septic shock not too long after he was delivered.

“But the wonderful NICU team helped save him,” Wilson said. “He’s doing really good now. He’s now 4 pounds, eating and growing.”

Though she and her husband could not spend every minute at St. Joseph, Wilson said the webcam was able to give her family relief while there were away. She added that because she had family in Belarus in Eastern Europe, which is 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, there was someone constantly monitoring Connor on the live-stream.

Every day that she was in the hospital with Connor, Wilson said she would post videos and photos of her son online to make sure everyone knew how he was doing.

“If he was full-term, I probably would not have posted so many pictures online, but people are interested in how he’s doing because he was born so early,” she said.

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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