On a mid-winter morning, just after 8 a.m., off-duty Hartford Hospital nurse Kristin Hardy received a phone call from her neighbor; a 25-year old pregnant woman due in six weeks. This was a second pregnancy, the first having ended in the loss of twins. Kristin was driving when the phone rang and almost did not pick up. Her decision answer saved a life.
On the other end of the phone, Kristin heard crying and yelling. It was the 15-year-old sister of the pregnant neighbor. Kristen calmed the girl and asked what happened. The girl said her sister was just finishing a shower when she felt something like her water break. But it wasn’t just water; there was “blood everywhere.”
Kristin stayed on the line with the 15-year-old sister, asking critical questions to determine the extent of the bleeding and the condition of the young pregnant woman. Knowing that this was a very high risk pregnancy with multiple complications including risk of preterm delivery and a breech position of the baby, Kristin promised to call 911 and encouraged women to get dressed if possible.
After summoning an ambulance, Kristin called her workplace – the Labor and Delivery Department at Hartford Hospital. Speaking with the charge nurse (a complex role Kristin fills three to four days a week), Kristin shared all of the clinical information about the young woman who was on her way via ambulance, including the fact that the patient’s doctor was not yet aware of what was happening. The timing of her call could not have been better. At the time, the Labor and Delivery team was together in a morning huddle. Knowing that a serious clinical emergency was about to cross their doorstep, the team, including an obstetric attending physician and a resident physician, an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, a surgical scrub technologist, circulating nurse, baby nurse and the pediatric team from Connecticut Children’s Neonatal ICU mobilized to prepare an operating room.
The patient’s condition was grave. She was bleeding heavily; there was blood in her shoes. The team knew the patient’s history, (thanks to Kristin’s phone call), and moved quickly. They quickly diagnosed the problem; a complete placental abruption. The baby’s heart rate was dangerously low. No time was lost for the usual admission process –no registration, no identification bracelet, no documentation. The patient was wheeled into the Labor and Delivery operating room with no delay. Ten minutes later, a four-pound baby girl was delivered via Cesarean section. Despite the emergency, the room was quiet and orderly. The pediatric team was there to resuscitate the baby.
Without Kristin’s advocacy and communication, this baby girl would not have survived. A delay of as little as ten minutes would have changed the outcome and a young woman would have been faced with the loss of another child.
From the driver’s seat of her car, Kristin Hardy saved the life of a baby and the heart of a mother.