New parents are grateful for team approach at Fort Sanders Regional
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. There was nothing he could do but wait and pray.
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 on a Saturday night in October.
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.
He held her close and called her name repeatedly, but instead of responding she began to go into another seizure that was even worse, driving her whole body into convulsions. He called 9-1-1 and an ambulance quickly arrived, but before it could leave the driveway Emily was overtaken by a third seizure, and paramedics determined she needed to be flown to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center for immediate care. Her blood pressure was 262 over 175.
“I knew the severity of the situation,” Wesley says. “I was just hoping one or both of them would make it.”
Obstetrician Curtis Elam, MD, was on call and waiting 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. Friends and relatives sat with him in the waiting room as the minutes and hours crept by. There were also private moments when he waited at his wife’s bedside in the intensive care unit.
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 holidays 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.”
The Mintons have every intention of making this holiday season their best ever, with more to be thankful for than ever before. “Oh, we absolutely are!” says Emily. “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.”