Hospital Parking Lot Doubles as Maternity Ward for Unexpected Delivery

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids chalked up an unusual “first” last Sunday morning. That morning, a Marion woman just couldn’t make it in time from her car to the hospital’s labor and delivery rooms inside. So the baby arrived in the emergency room parking lot.

Rachel and Chris, who didn’t want to give last names for privacy reasons, thought they had plenty of time to make the trip to the hospital for the birth of their second child. In fact, Rachel said she got a reminder from a family member. “My dad called in the night before and said make sure you get to the hospital on time. And I said, don’t worry dad, that’s covered,” Rachel said. But it didn’t work out that way.

On a hospital security camera, you can see Chris pull the family’s minivan up to the emergency room door and frantically run inside telling everyone his wife was having a baby right that moment in the car. Luckily, the first person he met was Ruthie Petersen, a Birth Place nurse who also works in the Mercy ER department. Petersen ran out to the car with other hospital personnel in hot pursuit.

Petersen said she knew right away the expectant mother wouldn’t make it inside. “She said I was having contractions eight minutes apart and now all of a sudden here’s this baby. How did that happen? I said your water broke and they just do whatever they want,” Petersen said.

Rachel said “Ruthie was leading the pack running toward us and she jumped in the van and between me and the dashboard and delivered the baby very, very calmly.”

On Friday, the family along with new daughter Taylor returned to Mercy to thank Petersen and the other people who helped with the unexpected delivery. Hospital officials say although it’s the first every delivery in the Mercy parking lot another woman several years ago delivered a baby in a maternity unit hallway.

As far as being the first to deliver in the parking lot, the parents from Marion accept it, but don’t exactly recommend it to anyone else. “It’s not the easiest way to bring a little one into the world, but we’re sure glad she came safely,” father Chris said.

As a gag, Petersen said he husband gave her a specially decorated catcher’s mitt last Christmas to use if she ever had to deliver any babies outside the hospital. She said it was wrapped in plastic and labeled “emergency use only.” Petersen said it didn’t help because she left her “baby-catching” mitt home last Sunday.

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