When Norwich resident and mom of three, Chris Rivera-Velez went into labor early in the morning on Nov. 15, she felt she had enough time to get to Backus Hospital for the delivery.
She was right about getting to the hospital — but getting inside was quite another story.
Rivera-Velez, gave birth to a healthy 5-pound, 12-ounce baby girl — named Amaya Sky — at 2:31 a.m. in the Emergency Department parking lot with the help of some sharp-minded and fast acting staff members from Backus.
Just prior to Amaya’s arrival, ED nurse Sam Badger noticed on the security camera that a van had pulled up to the entrance where a man — the baby’s father Willie Rivera — had jumped out the vehicle and ran into the ED waiting area, thinking the baby could be born at any moment.
Badger ran outside to see how she could help with ED nurses Steve Jahn, Stephanie West and Kim Johnson not far behind. After greeting Rivera-Velez, assessing the situation, and thinking there was more time, Johnson ran inside to get a wheelchair while the rest of the team attended to Rivera-Velez.
The baby didn’t want to wait.
“When I got back outside Sam [Badger] was holding the baby’s head,” said Johnson. “[Nurse] Des [Talento] came outside and finished delivering the baby. Steph [West] grabbed a stretcher and the bundle while I got some warm blankets.”
Labor and delivery staff arrived shortly after the birth to take mom and healthy baby up to the Birthing Center.
Meghan Hilliard, Regional Director of Emergency Services, credits the staff for their skill, quick thinking and compassion.
“You can never predict the kind of day you’re going to have in the Emergency Department, so you have to train to be ready for anything. Many times our team cares for patients during some of the scariest or darkest times, but this was a great night, we got to be part of one of the happiest moments of a family’s life,” said Hilliard.
Rivera-Velez said she is thankful to the staff for their help and can’t wait to tell Amaya the story how she entered the world one day.
“I can’t believe that’s how it happened. It’s like something straight out of a movie,” she Rivera-Velez.
Coincidently, the birthing center was experiencing a bit of a baby boom the same night, delivering 13 babies in a 24-hour period.