Program: Section on Telehealth Care Program (H3608)
P1034 - Using video teleconferencing to involve fathers in the morning rounds in the NICU. A novel approach forced by a change in visitation policy.
Background: Previous research has shown that father of infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are stressed as a result of fulfilling the traditional role as a breadwinner as well as a caregiver 1. Due to Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the parental visitation policy in our hospital changed. The new policy allowed only one parent to visit the NICU at one time. This was necessary as part of initiative to enforce social distancing and keep families and providers safe and prevent them from the contracting the disease. During family centered rounds in our NICU, only one parent (usually the mother) was able to be present. At that time, multiple fathers had expressed the disappointment and frustration at not being able to be present during the morning rounds. We utilized a teleconferencing platform to involve the fathers in the morning rounds.
Methods: The teleconferencing platform zoom was utilized for the program. During the weekdays before the rounds, the father was sent a link with a password to join the rounds. The father was informed of the approximate time of rounding and requested to log in to the platform 10 minutes prior. At the time of the rounding, the Physician (who was the team leader) was able to check if the father was available in the virtual waiting room in the platform. If the father was present, he was checked into the live stream and participated in the rounds.
Results: So far, we have successfully completed family centered rounds using the teleconferencing platform zoom in 13 infants. Verbal feedback received from the parents (both parents, especially the father) were very encouraging as all of them found this program useful. The providers in the unit had a general feeling that it not only improved the satisfaction of the parents but also allayed some anxiety in them, especially involving the father.
Conclusion: A video based teleconferencing platform was successfully utilized during the restrictions from hospital policy created by the pandemic. We believe that the successful implementation of this new program has future implications. Usually, fathers are still working when their infants are admitted to the NICU. A video teleconferencing platform can be offered to the working fathers to stay connected and involved in the care of their infants. This may improve satisfaction and reduce stress in fathers who are often not able to get involved to the extent they would like.
Reference: 1. Noergaard B, Ammentorp J, Garne E, Fenger-Gron J, Kofoed PE. Fathers’ stress in a neonatal intensive care unit. Adv Neonatal Care. 2018;18(5):413-422. doi:10.1097/ANC.0000000000000503