Cork hospital now allowing virtual visits of babies in intensive care

2 Apr 2020

Image: © Nenov Brothers /

Newborn babies in intensive care in a Cork hospital can now be visited virtually while coronavirus restrictions continue.

Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) will now be allowing parents to virtually see their newborn child in the intensive care unit as the country comes to terms with the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals around the country have placed restrictions on visitors in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

The virtual visiting initiative was developed by the hospital, the Ireland South Women and Infants Directorate, and the SFI research centre, Infant, at University College Cork.

Under the new restrictions, mothers can only visit a baby in neonatal intensive care for a limited amount of time during the day. Now, using the new video messaging platform, parents can check in on their child outside of these hours.

Nicola Carey, a parent whose son is in the neonatal intensive care unit at CUMH, said it has been a great help to her and her family.

“It is great, as his dad can see the progress he is making on a daily basis,” she said. “It is great to see him in the morning before I visit. It has been amazing for the anxious grandparents to see him and know he is doing well. It has been brilliant for us.”

How it works

The platform can be accessed at any time from any device and is available at no cost to the parents. They can create an account that is linked directly to their baby, allowing them to download videos to share with siblings, grandparents and other family members.

The platform developed by Infant also allows staff, coordinated by neonatal nurse manager Lucille Bradfield, to record short video messages and updates for each baby, which can be sent directly to parents via the vCreate platform.

Prof Gene Dempsey, consultant neonatologist at CUMH and a principal investigator at Infant, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which we hope will go some way to reducing the significant stress that parents are now facing.”

“Whether it’s for a day or two admission, or indeed many months for our most immature babies, we believe this system, along with its educational material, will alleviate some of the worry that families face in these difficult times.”

Director of the Infant centre, Prof Geraldine Boylan, added that the necessary technology was set up very quickly because of the research infrastructure already in place at the unit.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic