Parents who have babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Children’s Hospital want to spend every minute they can with their babies who are too sick or too small to go home. However, in some cases moms and dads struggle with challenges such as a military deployment, a personal illness or the need to care for other children at home. It is for these parents that Mercy Children’s Hospital has developed the CarrieCam, a webcam for parents to see their baby from afar even if they can’t physically visit.
The CarrieCam is a result of a patient’s special request in 2007. Carrie Powell and her husband Robert were expecting their third child that year. On her 30th birthday and in the first few months of pregnancy, Carrie was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized melanoma and told it was unlikely she would reach her 31st birthday.
From that point on, Carrie’s focus was making sure the baby had a good chance at life. Working with the doctors at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, she developed a plan to keep the pregnancy viable until it was safe to deliver. She was treated with radiation and chemotherapy while the developing baby was monitored closely. Her one wish was to have enough time to be able to hold her newborn baby.
On her last day of radiation, Carrie experienced bleeding on the brain prompting doctors to deliver the baby via emergency cesarean. It was unknown if Carrie or the baby would survive. On Nov. 20, 2007, Jackson arrived and Carrie survived to hold him.
Carrie was eventually released home from the hospital while Jackson remained in the NICU. Her worsening condition prevented her from going to the hospital to see Jackson each day. Knowing that seeing Jackson lifted her spirits and brought her peace and joy, Carrie’s friends contacted the patient advocates at Mercy Hospital St. Louis with an idea.
By working with the patient relations department and Mercy Technology Services, a webcam was installed in Jackson’s isolette allowing Carrie to turn on her computer at home and watch the daily happenings of Jackson’s care.
Carrie died on Feb. 13, 2008, not knowing that the joy she experienced with the webcam would inspire others to work diligently to bring the same comfort to other NICU families.
“We consider it a special honor that Carrie has meant so much to other people dealing with the stress of a premature delivery and that her legacy will live on through this special project,” said Robert Powell, Carrie’s husband.