Legacy Foundation Helps Hoag's Most Vulnerable Patients

Categories: Press Room

Newport Beach Philanthropy Grants $250,000 in Seed Money for Hoag NICU Telemedicine Program

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – August 21, 2014 – From tiny preemies with underdeveloped lungs to term babies born critically ill, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurtures the most vulnerable and fragile patients to health. But the days, weeks and sometimes months of hospitalization these delicate newborns require can take their toll on parents eager to bring their infants home.

A generous grant to Hoag Hospital Foundation of $250,000 from the Legacy Foundation will help Hoag’s NICU create a state-of-the-art video link and telemedicine interface to improve the family experiences and outcomes of the hospital’s most precious patients and their families.

The grant provides the seed funding for a pilot program in which parents who are separated from their hospitalized baby due to their own medical conditions, obligations at home to other children, or need to resume working will be given 24-hour access to their newborns via a privacy-secure webcamera at the infant’s bedside.

In the absence of being able to hold and snuggle their newborns, cameras can bring about a level of connectedness between parents and their baby, as well as familiarity and trust between parents and hospital staff that is otherwise difficult or impossible to achieve, said Robert Hillyard, M.D., Chief of Neonatology at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Regional Neonatal Director of CHOC Children’s Specialists.

“There is currently no higher priority for the NICU program than to bring the benefit of telemedicine technologies to our newborn patients and their families,” Hillyard said. “We are grateful to the Legacy Foundation for helping us realize this goal.”

In addition to enhancing the family experience, the telemedicine program will give specialists and pediatricians a secure interface to provide efficient, high-quality assessments. The program will also help Hoag build a teleconference “center” to provide staff education opportunities and increase the ability to participate in multi-center research.

“The vision of our NICU care team is to utilize readily available, secure and functionally proven forms of audio-video linkages to improve parents’ access to their hospitalized baby, improve our NICU staff’s access to remote educational and research opportunities, and to improve the CHOC pediatric subspecialty consultants’ access for treatment of our infants,” Hillyard said.

Hoag and CHOC currently collaborate in NICU care. The telemedicine program will bolster that collaboration by giving CHOC pediatric subspecialists the ability to view a baby through high resolution cameras, interact with parents and care providers and offer efficient, high quality consults.

The virtual campus will also expand the NICU’s reach to pediatric specialists all over the world. Pediatric specialists in hematology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, cardiology, dermatology and other specialties can be uncommon, but complete remote “rounding technology” would allow for access to these specialists regardless of their location, providing the highest level multi-disciplinary approach to each patient.

“In as much as it truly ‘takes a village’ of highly trained nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and other service providers to care for a critically ill newborn, staying informed and engaged in the latest advances in neonatal care is essential,” Hillyard said. “Advanced audio-visual conferencing has emerged as an invaluable tool in connecting the teaching expertise of programs of excellence around the country with smaller non-academic institutions.”

More importantly, parents will be able to remain a part of that “village,” no matter where they are.

“We are proud to play a role in a program that will help promote family bonding for parents whose babies are in the NICU,” The Legacy Foundation spokesperson said. “Parents unable to be in the NICU for extended periods of time receive peace of mind knowing their infants are receiving attention and care.”


Since it opened more than 30 years ago, the Hoag Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has served some of Orange County’s most vulnerable patients and rounds out Hoag’s comprehensive Maternal Child Services Program. With the opening of the Sue and Bill Gross Women’s Pavilion in 2006, Hoag affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). Hoag’s NICU is a level IIIa – caring for all gestational age infants. With the exception of surgery, the facility has full capability and a multi-disciplinary team that specializes in caring for premature infants. A robust program, the Hoag NICU has the second highest admissions in the county, only behind CHOC, and cares for an average of 16 infants at any time in a 21-bed unit. In keeping with Hoag’s family-centered care approach, the NICU encourages family involvement and has open visitation. Hoag is also embarking on a program to offer live bedside video access to infants in the NICU to augment patient care and give working, traveling and deployed parents 24-hour virtual access to their infants. Through a program unique in Orange County, Hoag also offers developmental screening and follow-up for two years to all its NICU patients.


The Legacy Foundation, a fund of the Orange County Community Foundation, was established to support organizations serving people who suffer from poverty, poor health, abuse, lack of education and a lack of opportunities to better their lives.