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Special delivery leaves Highland Park ER cheering

Thursday, September 07, 2023 11:47 AM

By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health

Special deliveryEmergency room physicians see a lot.

The entire staff of an emergency department, really, could be a study in even-keel, quick thinking.

Anything can happen during a shift, and they’re not easily thrown off.

Jessica Folk, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Highland Park Hospital, is a prime example of that coolness under pressure.

When a woman arrived at the Highland Park Hospital Emergency Department (ED) this summer so fully in labor that she couldn’t get out of her vehicle, Dr. Folk grabbed a pair of gloves and crawled in on the floor of the passenger seat.

“It was early in my shift. I had maybe seen one or two patients and was just sitting looking over labs when Carlos Valdez, RN, an Emergency Department nurse, walked up really calmly and was like, ‘Hey Dr. Folk, we need you up front,’” she said.

Emergency room doctors don’t normally go out to the ED entrance, so she asked him for more information. He said there’s a pregnant woman outside in a vehicle who feels like she’s going to deliver. Right now.

“I grabbed a pair of gloves and thought, ‘It’s go time,’” Dr. Folk said. She rushed outside and found the patient reclining in the front passenger seat of an SUV.

Emergency Department nurse Gwen Sammartino, RN was outside, reassuring the patient and trying to see if she could get her out of the car. Calm and collected, Gwen offered assistance with the delivery, as did Katlyn Formanski, RN.

“The patient said, ‘I can’t stand up. If I stand up the baby’s going to come out,’” Dr. Folk said. “I looked at her for a second and agreed. The baby was crowning. I crawled into her car and wedged myself between the glove box and the front of the seat.”

One push and the baby’s head was out. A second push and the baby was delivered.

“She was a strong mom, ready to go. It was impressive,” Dr. Folk said. “She asked, ‘What did I have?’ and I said, ‘Congratulations, it’s a boy!’”

She put the baby on his mother’s chest while she crawled out of the car, then saw the obstetrics team running out to meet the patient. Dr. Folk held the baby while they helped the mother out of the car and onto a bed, then the OB team, including attending obstetrician-gynecologist Megan Valassis, MD, and nurses Sandra Lutz, RN, and Violetta Krolikowska, RN, took over.

“By the time we got to the car, the mom was sitting in the passenger seat holding the baby,” Lutz said. “I was so excited for her.”

As they wheeled the patient into the hospital, a few people who realized what was going on began to clap. Once inside, Lutz andKrolikowska clipped the umbilical cord, delivered the placenta and the patient was admitted to recovery without any complications.

While Dr. Folk had delivered babies before, it was always in a more controlled setting.

“Although I've responded to other fresh deliveries in the drive at Highland Park, this was the first car delivery,” Dr. Folk said. “It was an exciting moment to be a part of. Afterward I went inside, ditched my gloves, washed my arms and got back to work.”

Learn more about emergency care at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Explore pregnancy and baby services at NorthShore University HealthSystem.