Snowplows had to clear the way so a pregnant Grinnell woman could get to a Des Moines hospital Tuesday evening. Twenty-four-year old Sierra Van Ersvelde was 34 weeks pregnant and started having strong contractions. She was taken by ambulance to Grinnell Regional Medical Center, which can handle deliveries.
But Suzanne Cooner, the vice president of operations at the Grinnell hospital, says the expectant mother had to be taken to a bigger hospital that’s considered a “tertiary care center” because it can deal with high-risk pregnancies.
“It was because of her blood disorder that we needed to get her to a tertiary (care center),” Cooner says, “because there were things that we couldn’t get in the storm that she would have needed.” Normally, getting a patient to Des Moines is fairly routine, but the snow storm complicated things.
Transporting the woman via helicopter wasn’t possible in the midst of the storm and Midwest Ambulance Service was reluctant to dispatch a team from Grinnell to Des Moines when travel wasn’t recommended on Interstate-80.
“It was very urgent that we get this patient to a tertiary center,” she says. “And so what we ended up doing was I called and pretty much begged Midwest (Ambulance Service), their administrative offices, and they agreed that if we sent a nurse and if we got the D.O.T. to clear the road for them — kind of daisy chain all the way to Des Moines and then back — that they would attempt it, just because of the urgency of the situation.” Cooner says semi-trucks on the highway caused some concern.
“The bad part about it was the trucks were passing the ambulance and they were so concerned there was going to be an accident because of the trucks passing so fast and I think it scared the patient,” Conner says. “It scared our staff member, for sure, so in Jasper County, the Jasper County D.O.T. put both blades out so they couldn’t pass.” The pregnant woman arrived at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines at about midnight, where her contractions were halted — preventing a pre-mature birth.
By Chris Johnson, KGRN, Grinnell