Virtual nursery proves popular

Hospital posts newborns' photos on World Wide Web

Yes, sir, that's my baby

March 12, 2000|By Kimberly Marselas | Kimberly Marselas,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Anne Arundel Medical Center offers new mothers a high-tech option when it comes to their baby's first photo -- a "Web nursery" where pictures of newborns can be posted on a secure Internet site.

Until this week, Anne Arundel was the first hospital in the area to offer an Internet photo service, but the idea is spreading locally and nationally, as Sinai Hospital in Baltimore prepares to begin its service.

The Annapolis hospital started working with That's My Baby, a Georgia-based company, last month and has had an overwhelming response. Hospital spokeswoman Mary Lou Baker said almost all of the new moms have signed on for the service.

Katey Simon of Annapolis was one of the first to use That's My Baby at Anne Arundel. Her oldest daughter, Dawn, is away at college and could not be there for her sister's birth last month. But with a password and a couple of clicks on the online nursery, Dawn got to see her little sister, Kayla, the day after she was born.

"It's a great thing because this will be the only way Dawn will be able to see her" until she can come home, Simon said.

That's My Baby, which posts photos for a dozen hospitals nationwide, keeps the pictures on the Web site for 60 days. There is a charge for the service, however. Parents are required to buy $24.95 worth of old-fashioned print photos or pay $24.95.

On the new Sinai Web site, parents are not required to pay a fee or buy pictures to have a photo posted.

At Anne Arundel Medical Center, the pictures are taken with a digital camera hidden inside a custom-designed cart that rolls from room to room. The baby lies on a padded tray on top of the cart while a flashbulb snaps overhead. A computer monitor displays three photos, and parents can choose the ones they want. The photos are generally posted within 48 hours of the baby's birth.

"I think it adds to the whole experience," said Karen Peddicord, the hospital's clinical administrator for women's and children's services.

Peddicord decided on That's My Baby after more than a year of considering high-tech baby photo options. "I knew things were developing out there along the line of Internet babies. I was waiting and evaluating them to find something our patients would really like and trust."

Interest at Sinai

Though Anne Arundel Medical Center was the first hospital to offer such a service in the area, Sinai had been contemplating the idea for a while.

"We wanted to make sure the site was secure and that we wouldn't have any problems," said Jill Bloom, a Sinai spokeswoman. "We think using just the baby's first and middle names will make it safe."

Parents can also choose not to have a photo posted, and any parent who wants a baby's picture removed from the site before the regular 30-day period ends simply has to ask.

That's My Baby requires visitors to have an access code before they can view a baby's photo, and parents post as little or as much information about their baby as they like.

York Hospital in Pennsylvania has offered Internet postings of baby photos on its Web site since December 1997 but does not require a password. York babies are listed by first name and date of birth.

"It's been very, very popular," said Barry Sparks, a spokesman for York. "We've literally had relatives from all over the world access the photos."

Proceeds shared

The Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Children's Center are also looking into Internet baby photos.

That's My Baby shares some of its proceeds with participating hospitals, although a company representative would say only that the amount was less than 50 percent. Baker said the money Anne Arundel Medical Center makes from the service goes to the hospital auxiliary, which plans to put the money toward a $65 million construction project.

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