Wesley Minton sat in the waiting room at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, wondering if he would go home as part of a family, as a single parent, or all alone. His wife was 36 weeks pregnant, hospitalized, and unconscious following a seizure.
Making a choice
When Wesley and Emily Minton decided to start a family, there were plenty of great hospital choices for the delivery of their first baby. Emily, who is a nurse practitioner, says the partnership between Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital was a major factor in the decision-making process. The two hospitals are located next door to each other and connected by a tunnel, so pediatric specialists have the fastest access to the littlest of patients.
The Mintons’ hospital choice turned out to be more important than they ever could have imagined, when Emily was airlifted to Fort Sanders Regional from their home in Claiborne County.
An unexpected emergency
Wesley says he walked into their bathroom to find Emily sick, suffering a seizure caused by eclampsia, a life threatening condition brought on by high blood pressure. Emily’s blood pressure was 262 over 175.
Obstetrician Curtis Elam, MD with Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists, was on call and waiting at Fort Sanders Regional when the helicopter landed. Dr. Elam carefully explained to Wesley and extended family members what was happening, and reassured the father-to-be that Emily was being well cared for.
“He told me that the baby was alive, and they had to do some extensive tests on Emily,” Wesley says. “She was in very critical condition and they had to get her stabilized.”
There was an MRI, more medication was administered to bring Emily’s blood pressure down, and preparations were made for an emergency C-section. Wesley was relieved when he learned his daughter had been safely delivered.
He waited and prayed for his wife, who still lay unconscious in a hospital bed. Emily’s blood pressure began to lower, and she was eventually removed from a ventilator. Shortly afterward, she opened her eyes.
“I knew I was in a hospital,” Emily says, “but I had no idea what had happened.”
She was also aware that she was no longer pregnant, so the first question she asked was about her baby. She was flooded with relief to hear that her child was safe and sound on the other side of the tunnel, just across the street at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
The mother and daughter had to remain hospitalized for a time, but while Emily was still a patient at Fort Sanders Regional she was able to travel through the tunnel to hold her baby. Little Amelia stayed under the watchful care of Children’s Hospital for about a week, and then the Mintons were finally able to start life as a family together.
Happy at home
Wesley says through the care of doctors, nurses, and specialists, his family has experienced a miracle. “Dr. Elam has a special place in our hearts,” he says. “And the team at Fort Sanders and Children’s went over and above in how accommodating they were.”
“We’re so grateful and thankful and couldn’t have asked for anyone better than Dr. Elam and the whole staff at Fort Sanders Regional and Children’s,” says Emily.
A team approach
Emily Minton had worked at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital as a nurse and as a nurse practitioner, so she had firsthand knowledge of the partnership between Fort Sanders Regional and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The two facilities have an open door policy, so there’s nothing to slow down the team approach to provide immediate, specialized care to newborns who need it.
When the decision was made to perform an emergency C-section, a team from Children’s quickly assembled and moved through the tunnel connecting the two hospitals, standing nearby as the procedure was performed at Fort Sanders Regional. Baby Amelia was immediately assessed by pediatric specialists and whisked away through the tunnel to the neonatal intensive care Unit at Children’s.
While medical staff at Fort Sanders worked to stabilize Emily’s blood pressure, Wesley Minton was able to see his newborn daughter without traveling too far from where his wife was being treated. Later, the day after Amelia was born, Emily was able to travel the short distance indoors through the tunnel to meet her baby.
“The whole team was extremely compassionate, and very attentive to our needs the whole time we were there,” Wesley says. “We couldn’t ask for a group of people to be any better to us.”
Emily agrees, saying she would definitely choose the Fort Sanders Regional and Children’s teams, if she had to do it all over again.