Keyanna Rivera’s doctor’s office visit turned into a surprise delivery on Mar. 12 – with her obstetrician overseeing via FaceTime from 20 minutes away. (Photo: Fox)
An estimated 30 percent of Americans work remotely using computers and smart phones — just not usually obstetricians.
But that’s exactly what Keyanna Rivera’s doctor had to do Thursday when Rivera’s water broke 10 minutes into her office visit in Newark, New Jersey. The baby started to come out – while her OBGYN Meena Devalla was still wrapping up a surgery 20 minutes away at the Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, New Jersey. So Devalla supervised her medical assistants in delivering Rivera’s fourth baby via FaceTime.
“He made a grand entrance,” Rivera tells My Fox NY of her son, Raphael. And it was such a quick one (less than a half hour after the couple arrived at 11:30 a.m.) that he had the medical office staff in a frantic scramble. “Everything happened so fast,” explains the mom, who also has three girls, to NBC New York. As soon as the medical assistants realized that Rivera wasn’t going to be able to wait for the doctor or even the ambulance en route, they enlisted her husband to hold up a cell phone so Devalla could see what was happening and give instructions.
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“It was comforting to know that she wasn’t there physically but she was still telling them, ‘Clamp here,” and ‘make sure the baby’s breathing’ and do this and do that,” says the mother. “That really put my mind at ease.”
But Dr. Devalla admits the experience threw her a bit. “I was in a daze, thinking what is happening?” says the obstetrician, noting that her staff really stepped up. “They were very professional and showed great teamwork.” (Devalla didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s requests for comment). Rivera says her husband deserves praise too: “I’m surprised he didn’t hit the floor!”
Rivera’s husband (Photo: ABC)
And while FaceTime deliveries aren’t standard practice, they aren’t uncommon in the medical community. Telemedicine, defined as the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance, “is being used to provide medical care to communities in remote rural areas,” says obstetrician Jose Carugno, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Though Carugno is quick to caution that in-person attention is always best, he tells Yahoo Parenting that with the face to face interaction FaceTime offers “the provider can not only give professional direction to non medical personnel in the field, in home births, or even in a taxi, it also allows the physician to ‘see’ in real time what the situation is and provide guidance accordingly.”
Tech advances may change the way midwives assist in delivering children in remote areas of the world too. Forbes reports that clinical trials are slated to begin this month on ePartogram, a smart device with software that alerts midwives to any complications that may arise based on the data that they enter in about a woman’s labor progress.
Even the way families can experience deliveries is changing. Australian parents Jason and Alison Larke were the first to livestream a child’s birth, according to the New York Daily News, in January. The father witnessed their third baby enter the world in Perth from 4,000 miles away using a virtual reality headset, allowing him to observe the hospital room without being locked into a fixed vantage point.
“Technology has entered the medical field and the changes are coming on a day-by-day basis,” says Carugno, who offers up robotic surgery (which allows surgeons to perform procedures without even scrubbing in) as another example. “It’s constant progress and the medical community has embraced it.”