Chicago hospital launches app that lets parents monitor NICU babies

It is a gut-wrenching time for new parents when their babies are struggling to survive in intensive care.

Now, a local hospital is working to ease their fears with an app.

Life did not start out quite so good for Ashton Montgomery.

“It was really one of the scariest days of my life because it was completely unexpected,” said Ashton’s mother Miracle Montgomery.

Ashton was born seven weeks early, weighing less than three pounds. He spent his first month of life at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital.

“Just learning how to be a new human, a little human being and trying to do all this on his own,” Miracle said.

First time parents, Miracle and Reggie Montgomery, would only leave the NICU to sleep -- and new tech kept them tethered to their baby.

“To have to leave at night was probably the most difficult thing and I think the “NICU-2-Home” app is what closed that gap for us,” father Reggie said.

Doctor Craig Garfield developed the NICU-2-Home app with grant money from Friends of Prentice.

During the test phase at Northwestern Medicine, parents can see real-time updates on their baby's weight, breathing, medication -- even poop -- all on their phone.

“I noticed that parents were sitting at the bed side, waiting for their babies to wake up,” Garfield said. “I thought wow, if they're sitting there wanting to be involved they could be reading and learning about what's happening to their baby.”

For most families that end up in the NICU, they did not plan to be here so educating them on what to expect is a major goal of the app.

“I would go home and kind of read up on it so whenever I would come back in and be prepped for rounds, I knew what questions to ask,” Miracle said.

The app also has pictures and updates to share with family. Plus, it charts the child's progress.

“As long as that slope was going up, we were in pretty good spirits,” Reggie said.

“At the end of the day, what we really want is to give that baby to the parents and for them to be really comfortable taking that baby home,” Garfield said.

Doctor Garfield says early results indicate parents are more confident, and reaching the ultimate goal sooner: going home with a NICU graduate, like Ashton.