Hospital tests wireless monitoring for mothers in labor

GREENFIELD — New technology being piloted at the Andis Women’s and Children’s Department provides comfort to women in labor while allowing doctors to monitor their babies more easily during labor.

Hancock Regional Hospital now offers a wireless fetal monitoring system for mothers in labor as part of an ongoing effort — which includes an $800,000 renovation of the maternity ward — to make the women’s center more attractive to expecting families.

Hancock Regional is one of a few hospitals in the state offering the Monica Novii wireless patch system, which tracks the heartbeat of both mom and baby as well as the progression of contractions. HRH serves as a pilot facility for GE medical products, giving it the chance to test-drive the latest technology, said Theresa Leuder, director of the Andis Women’s and Children’s Department.

The patch, available to all patients in active labor who are are full term and carrying one baby, replaces belt-like monitors that encircles the mother’s abdomen and prohibit much movement, she said.

The belts were uncomfortable for some laboring women who found that moving about the room offered relief from contractions; while wearing the belt, their movements were restricted, hospital officials said.

The small wireless device, which sticks to the mother’s belly with removable adhesive, gives patients the freedom to move, walk around, even go in the shower if they choose, Lueder said.

“Everyone comes into the hospital scared, and the last thing you need is to be tethered and told not to move,” Lueder said. “I think this is a step in the right direction.”

Without the cables and wires cluttering the delivery room, the new system creates a safer environment for patients and nurses alike, she added.

Barb Smith, a registered nurse in the maternity ward, said she anticipates the new device will make nurses’ jobs easier because the new monitors are easier to handle.

“I’m looking forward to being able to not make constant readjustments, especially if (the patient) is trying to sleep,” she said. “I hate it for the patient I’m coming in to bother.”

The one-time-use patch device transmits information via Bluetooth technology to nurses’ tablets and can transmit data up to 65 feet, meaning mothers-to-be will have the freedom to walk through most of the unit, Lueder said.

Lueder hopes the new technology empowers more women to choose to use an exercise ball or other less traditional pain management techniques because moving around to try them will be easier.

“Changing position in labor is only going to make them feel better, and it might even help the labor process,” she said. “And instead of nurses chasing the baby around with the monitors, this will give them more time to care for you.”

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or