2016: From miracle babies to big data and robotic precision

Today, love—and technology—seem to make the world go ’round.

That shows in life-saving procedures aided by the latest tools and information. Often, it’s a promising new device that moves quickly from the research stage to the patient. And it can be a small but essential piece of tech that provides just the right service when families need it most.

We continue to harness technology to achieve the best possible outcomes, as you’ll see from these families and staff who share their updates made possible by advances at Carle.

Families check on NICU babies anytime, anywhere with secure webcams

Konnor Harlan, former NICU babyIn 2016, two families shared how much being at the first hospital in the state to add secure NicView webcams made their babies’ early starts easier.

Konnor Harlan spent 24 days at Carle’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and his first-time parents were the first to use the webcams to watch him online when they couldn’t be by his side.

“Being in the NICU wasn’t what Scott and I wanted for our little guy, but it makes him the boy he is today,” said Heather Harlan, adding, “He has stolen our hearts.

“Konnor would spend all day outside if we let him. He loves to swing and watch our backyard chickens. Konnor and Ellie, our dog, are inseparable. He is also in love with books. His favorite is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ which will be the theme for his first birthday.”

Raya and Ryker Gream, twinsFor Ashley and Ryan Gream, having just one of their babies in the NICU was just the beginning of their adventures.

“Having twins, routine is everything. If one baby misses a nap, it throws of the schedule for days,” Ashley said. “But more than anything, all of our hearts have doubled, just like everything in our lives, because they brought more joy than we ever could have imagined.

“Plus, their big brothers adore Ryker and Raya as much as we do. And there’s nothing sweeter than a 13-year-old carrying his baby sister—with her bows and dresses—around a wrestling mat.”

New College of Medicine dean emphasizes key to revolutionizing healthcare

As Carle Illinois College of Medicine pioneers continue to prepare for the first class of professionals trained at the intersection of engineering and medicine, Dean Dr. King Li shared his vision while settling in this fall.

“Twenty years from now we’ll be saying that this is the place where the revolution in healthcare delivery really occurred,” Dr. Li told faculty, colleagues and potential donors gathered to meet him.

“I can’t see how we can fail with a fantastic broad-based university, fantastic vertically integrated health system and a very supportive community.”

Unique procedure gives pacemaker patients options

In 2017, Carle will add to the roster of more 3,500 patients who have a pacemaker or defibrillator to help keep their heart beats in rhythm.

A delicate technology-assisted procedure allows Anuj Garg, MD, and his team to remove old wires and insert new ones.

Before Dr. Garg—an electrophysiologist fellowship-trained in the procedure—came to Carle, patients had to travel to Chicago or St. Louis or face open-heart surgery.

“Instead of invasive heart surgery, I use a catheter. I use specialized tools, which go over the old wires and removes scar tissue. Once we remove the old wires, I can install the new pacemaker with new wires,” Dr. Garg said.

“Patients can go home the next day.”

Surgical team, students 'test drive' next-generation robotic system

Carle added its second robot-assisted surgical system in November, allowing surgeons to perform more of certain minimally invasive surgeries to help patients recover faster and live longer.

Four University of Illinois Biomedical Instrumentation students learned about the da Vinci Xi system firsthand and then shared what they learned to inspire their classmates.

“Our visit helped better educate our class on this incredibly significant medical advancement and how it’s changing the world of medicine,” student Jean Kwak said.

“I love that what we’re working on is focused on the future.”