Woman inspires St. John's Mercy Medical Center to use webcam technology

10:44 PM, May 15, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

Creve Coeur (KSDK) --  At St. John's Mercy Medical center, sometimes treating a patient is all about how you treat the patient.

In the neo-natal intensive care unit, 21 year old Jilian Fleek uses a web cam to show six week old Brendan to his dad back in North Carolina. Jilian's fiancé is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. He couldn't be there when Brendan, and his brother Tucker were born.

"They were born at 28 weeks so about 3 months early, " Fleek explained.

For those in jobs like the military, whether in North Carolina or Afghanistan, webcams can sometimes be, the next best thing to being there.

"You feel absolutely powerless and helpless to your spouse when you're thousands of miles away and it's the one connection you can have, " says Michele Sprague, a neo-natal intensive care nurse.

Webcam technology may be nothing new but here at St. John's it all started in 2007 because of one patient's special request.

"She was just my soul mate. She was the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with, " explains Robert Powell.

Powell's wife Carrie was five months pregnant with their second child when she was diagnosed with stage 5 metastasized melanoma.

"It kind of rocked our world. We were numb for the most part, you don't know what to feel, " says Powell.

Through sheer will, Carrie survived the delivery but then she had to be separated from the baby because of her worsening condition. That's when the folks at St. John's decided to do something they had never done before and install a webcam.

In the final days of her life, seeing her little boy on that webcam, brought great comfort.

"She would sit there and just stare at him, " remembers Powell.

Jackson Powell is now three years old

"Full of energy. Keeps me running all the time, " laughs his dad.

Jackson never really knew his mom but her memory is honored in the Powell home. It's also honored here at St. John's.

When technology is the only way families can be together, parents like Jilian request what is now known here as a Carrie cam.

"We wanted to do something to make it our own and in memory of someone very special, " says Sprague.

Brendan and Tucker are getting stronger everyday and they'll soon be reunited with their dad back in North Carolina. They won't remember all of this but for their parents and many like them, the precious moments and the people who made it happen, will never be forgotten.




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