A happenstance encounter in a hospital parking lot leads to a once-in-a-career type of delivery.
Dr. Whitney Giamberardino, physician at CU Medicine Highlands Ranch, was on her way to work for her clinic day in December. Wearing a winter coat, dress pants and a pair of knee-high leather boots, she had no plans of being in the operating room that day.
Giamberardino was carrying her latte across the parking lot when, by happenstance, she noticed a familiar face. She ran into the husband of one of her colleagues and patients, Angel Stanley, a charge nurse at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital. Stanley’s husband proceeded to tell Giamberardino that his wife was in their car in active labor.
Giamberardino hurried across the parking lot to greet Stanley, who was in tremendous pain. Knowing Stanley had a prior rapid pregnancy, Giamberardino stayed with her, with the expectation of another fast delivery.
Upon an initial exam once inside the hospital, Giamberardino learned that Stanley’s baby was not presenting appropriately, with one foot and the umbilical cord coming down. The baby’s heart rate was decelerating, and it was clear this was an emergency.
Stanley felt “scared because of the unknown.” As a PACU charge nurse, she knows how to read a hospital room. With more and more of Stanley’s fellow colleagues entering her room, she knew the situation was serious.
Giamberardino remained a calming presence for Stanley throughout the emergency, something she trains for and prides herself on.
“I think our specialty [obstetrics] is unique in the fact that we are usually involved in very special moments, but unfortunately, things can become acute very quickly,” Giamberardino said.
With the baby’s heart rate deteriorating rapidly, the team rushed to prepare Stanley for an emergency cesarean section.
Still in her clinic clothes, Giamberardino quickly located scrubs to throw on as fast as possible. Nurses helped her get shoes on while the anesthesia team ran in to get Stanley comfortable and begin anesthesia.
Stanley’s son was in a single footling breech position, essentially doing the splits at the time of delivery, with one foot out and the other foot up by his head near Stanley’s ribcage. Stanley’s son was born in a matter of minutes.
“I think it’s one of the few moments in our careers where you feel like you probably did save somebody,” Giamberardino said. “Angel had one of the craziest deliveries that I’ve been involved in. It’s truly a miracle that me, as her doctor, was the one walking through the parking lot when it happened.”
Knowing that Stanley and her son were both doing well following delivery, Giamberardino described the feeling as “a huge adrenaline rush” and “a sigh of relief in the operating room for everyone involved.”
“It’s definitely a team effort,” Giamberardino said. “Everyone worked really, really quickly so that we could have a safe delivery for her and her baby.”
“That sort of an emergency is something we train for. But happening upon a situation like this, in a parking lot, is just not something that you ever think you’re going to have in your career, to be honest.”
Giamberardino stayed with Stanley from the moment she saw her in the parking lot until her baby was born.
“It was so relieving that she stayed by my side,” Stanley said. “That was the most comforting thing.”
Giamberardino continued her care and compassion, keeping the mentality of “patients first” following the delivery. She made it a point to check on Stanley and her mental health, ensuring that she was feeling OK and coping well following a traumatic delivery.
“She cared about my well-being, and that is so important to me,” Stanley said.
“It’s an honor getting to take care of our staff and keeping them safe,” Giamberardino said. “It was definitely an extraordinary experience that I could have never envisioned or imagined, but our entire team worked really well, really efficiently. And I think everyone’s to thank for keeping Angel safe.”