Hurricane Irma evacuee gives birth at Inova
It was 4 a.m. on Friday, September 8, 2017 when Laura and her husband, Timothy, their two children, her mother and their dog loaded into the family car and drove out of Tampa, FL, to escape a pending hurricane. Hurricane Irma, already a category 5 storm, had been brewing over the Atlantic and was expected to hit Florida soon.
Laura happened to be 37 weeks pregnant. She also had been diagnosed with placenta previa, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a baby’s placenta covers the mother’s cervix, placing the mother at risk for severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. Although she had scheduled a C-section at Tampa General Hospital, Laura was concerned that the hospital would not be operational after the storm arrived.
Searching for a hospital for emergency C-section delivery
The family set out for Atlanta, where Laura hoped to schedule a C-section at Emory University Hospital. There was heavy traffic on the freeway, and military convoys were headed south toward the pending hurricane. “When I called the hospital, they told me that I would have to first be seen as a new patient and then I would have to be slotted for a C-section, and we weren’t anticipating to stay,” says Laura.
Not wanting to settle in Atlanta for a week or more and not knowing where to turn, Laura called her cousin, Catharine Paules, MD, who works for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Paules encouraged Laura to drive north and reassured her that she would find a hospital that would take care of her. On Sunday night, Dr. Paules contacted an OB-GYN at NIH named Cathy Spong, MD, who is affiliated with Inova Alexandria Hospital. Dr. Spong immediately called Sarah Poggi, MD, Medical Director of the Brock Family Antenatal Testing Center at IAH. Dr. Poggi scheduled Laura to be seen the next morning.
Anetnatal doctors at Inova Alexandria knew how to help
“Laura was already at full-term with a placenta previa, so there was the potential for an obstetric hemorrhage if we didn’t take care of her,” explains Dr. Poggi. “I heard about it on a Sunday night. I saw her Monday morning. I confirmed the previa by ultrasound, and her baby was delivered that afternoon by Stacy Andrews, MD, an OB-GYN at Inova Alexandria Hospital.”
Calm after the storm
Thankfully, Eloise Storm was born a happy, healthy baby girl.
“After everything that happened that we hadn’t planned for, we got a beautiful, healthy baby, and she’s our little perfect storm,” says Laura.
Laura says she is grateful to have found an expert team that could help her through a scary experience. “Dr. Poggi was fantastic in getting us in and making sure everything went smoothly without any problem,” Laura says. “Everyone really put me at ease. We’re just so blessed to have gotten everyone up there and back home safely.”
When she is older, baby Eloise Storm will learn about the interesting circumstances surrounding her birth.
To learn more about the Inova Alexandria Hospital Birthing Center, visit inova.org/IAHmom.