New "Skype-like" technology helping babies in Tyler NICU - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

New "Skype-like" technology helping babies in Tyler NICU

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TYLER (KYTX) - Mother Frances Hospital and Dallas Children's Hospital are teaming up. They are  bringing a brand new technology to help Tyler's smallest patients.

The doctors at both hospitals can now communicate through a device that is a high-tech version of Skype or Facetime. It's called telemedicine, or tele-NICU.

For Frednisha and Davariye Jackson, and their newborn Taraji, today is a special day.

"Because we get to go home!" the new parents say in unison. "She's been in the NICU 20 plus days and it's been hard, but it could have been harder. They told us at first she might have to go to Dallas."

That wasn't necessary though.  With this new telemedicine technology, Mother Frances doctors can consult with Dallas Children's Hospital doctors on camera, allowing parents like the Jacksons, to keep their baby in Tyler.

"It's got a camera here that we can move so that we can show the baby or show the parents," says NICU Medical Director Dr. Brenda Morris uses a handheld camera, to show close-ups of the babies.

"We actually have a stethoscope that I can put on the baby's heart, chest, abdomen, and we can actually hear in real time as if they're standing right next to the baby, listening to it," Morris says.

The two hospitals have used tele-medicine for six babies since the technology went live September 9. Five were transferred to Dallas after their consult, and one was able to stay in Tyler.

"There is no pediatric surgical support in Tyler or anywhere in East Texas, so any baby in need of surgery automatically has to be transferred to Dallas," Morris says.

Even so, having a tele-NICU consult before a transfer gives families peace of mind, and gives doctors extra time to prepare.

The Jacksons say, "Even with all our trials and tribulations, I'm glad she was here and had the opportunity to benefit from this technology because I know other mothers who didn't have this."

Right now the technology is only being used for NICU babies, but soon doctors here hope to expand the program to children in their pediatric unit.

Dr. Morris says this could change the future of medicine in smaller areas like Tyler that don't have access to as many specialists.

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