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The Calm in the Chaos

Posted on June 15, 2017 in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Fort Sanders Regional Prepared for the Unexpected

Tachycardia is the term used to describe an abnormally rapid heart rate, usually faster than 100 beats per minute. It can be caused by something as simple as stress and drinking too much caffeine, but it is sometimes prompted by things that are far more serious, like poor blood supply to the heart, heart failure, tumors or infections.

So it’s not surprising that when Kerrianna Neilson found out she needed an emergency C-section because her unborn baby was experiencing tachycardia, she was shocked and afraid.

“There were lots of tears and lots of fears,” says Neilson after her successful delivery at Fort Sanders Regional Medial Center. “I was terrified!”

Because she had blood clotting disorders, Neilson was under the care of perinatologist Perry Roussis, MD, who specializes in the treatment of women whose pregnancies are considered to be high risk. While the tachycardia was unrelated to her disorders and caught the mother-to-be off guard, Dr. Roussis remained calm.

“Pregnancy is an unpredictable event,” Dr. Roussis says.

He explains that an unborn baby only communicates through tests, one of which is fetal monitoring. In Neilson’s case, that monitoring revealed the baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering between contractions, but remained unusually high.

“We didn’t have any other way to determine the level of oxygen that was present in the baby,” Dr. Roussis says. “If delivery had been imminent within 20 or 30 minutes, the baby could have withstood that, but the labor could have gone on for another five to six hours.”

Dr. Roussis carefully explained every part of the process to Neilson, and why the C-section was needed. He strongly believes that his patients should always be well-informed.

“These women come to you and they trust you with the most precious thing in their lives,” Dr. Roussis says. “It is your job not only to make sure that you fulfill that trust to the best of your ability, but you also need to make sure that you are coworkers through this journey. You have to make sure they understand what’s going on, and you have to make sure that they feel they are part of it.”

Neilson says she was grateful that Dr. Roussis was knowledgeable, decisive, and understanding of her fear. That level of compassion extended throughout the delivery room.

For example, Neilson says she had severe pain from gas that found its way into her shoulder cavity, a common occurrence in abdominal surgery. “The anesthesiologist was amazing, explaining what was going to happen [as he administered the anesthesia] and telling me everything was going to be okay,” Neilson says. He showed Neilson’s husband how to massage her shoulder to help ease the pain.

“The nurses and the anesthesiologist did everything they could. They were so caring,” Neilson says, “and just him talking me through everything was great.”

Baby Everette entered the world on March 4, 2017. Witnessing that first meeting of parents and babies is a special moment.

That moment is what is most rewarding to Dr. Roussis. “When you get that baby in their hands and see the smiles on their faces, that is what charges your batteries and makes you say, ‘I’m going to get up and do it again,’” Dr. Roussis says.

From treatment throughout the pregnancy, to the tense moments in the delivery room, to the assistance with lactation, and the care during recovery, Neilson is pleased with her experience at Fort Sanders Regional. “It could not have been better,” she says.

Fort Sanders Regional delivers more babies than any other facility in the area, including more than 20,000 high-risk babies over the last 20 years. Specialists on staff are available to address a wide range of special needs. You can learn more about options for moms-to-be at fsregional.com/womens-services/.