Nurse delivers baby just outside entrance to hospital
By Terry Oparka
September 3, 2013
Two women awoke miles apart just after 4:30 a.m. Aug. 26. Both felt jittery, but neither knew why.
Colleen Joseph, a cardiac care nurse at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, said she felt an inexplicable need to rush to the hospital that morning.
Joseph had planned to arrive at the hospital a little earlier than she normally did to bring food for a colleague’s birthday party, but she was well within that time frame.
“I kept thinking, why am I rushing?” she said.
Anna Wanagat awoke at 4:30 a.m. in her Sterling Heights home feeling “really anxious.”
She and her husband, Scott, were expecting a sibling for their son Lucas, 3, but her due date wasn’t until Sept. 4.
“I felt and heard a pop,” she said. “I told my husband, I think my water broke.” So they called Anna’s parents — her father to babysit Lucas and her mother to accompany them to the hospital.
Anna quickly showered, but didn’t take time to dry her hair. “My mother said, ‘Are you going outside with wet hair?’ and I said I thought we just should leave.”
The Wanagats and Joseph both arrived at the west entrance to the hospital, rather than the front or emergency room entrances, at 5:45 a.m.
“Nobody but a patient registrar was at that entrance,” Joseph said. She had driven to that entrance, not the door she normally uses, because she thought it would be easier to find a wheelchair to transport the food she’d brought with her for the party.
She pulled her car up to the door, got out and heard someone screaming.
It was Anna in the backseat of their SUV in the throes of heavy labor with her mother sitting next to her.
Things happened very quickly after that.
Scott ran toward the door with the thought of getting a wheelchair to get Anna inside the hospital.
But baby Joshua had other ideas.
Joseph looked into the SUV and yelled for Scott to tell the registrar to “call a code,” summoning medical care to Anna.
Again, baby Joshua had other ideas.
“I was hoping to make it inside the hospital, and I thought, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it,’” Anna said. “At that point, I was in so much pain, I just wanted to get him out; that was my main concern.”
In a span of 20 seconds, Scott ran back to the SUV, and Joseph, who had never delivered a baby in her 23 years of nursing, slipped her hand against the backseat behind Anna to ensure the baby had space to breathe and told Scott to put the seat all the way back so Anna could lie down.
Anna said Scott and her mother both worked to get her ready for labor as Anna said, “I’ve got to push.”
Joseph saw the baby’s head crowning, and she guided the baby’s back out and turned the infant’s face to ensure a clear airway.
“He was breathing,” Joseph said.
Anna asked, “Is he OK?” and Joseph placed Joshua, who weighed in at 6 pounds 12 ounces, on her stomach.
When Anna looked up, about 30 doctors and nurses had arrived on the scene.
“It was surreal,” Anna said. “I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’”
“I felt God had a plan for this to happen,” Joseph said. “Someone was guiding my hand. As a nurse, I know to make sure there’s a good airway and that the mom was OK. Joshua wanted to come out. I was so blessed as a caregiver, as a nurse, to be a servant in that moment.”
“The dad (Scott) said it was like a symphony, like it was a written script,” Joseph said. “They’re an incredible family. My life is touched from here on out.”
Anna continues to be grateful.
“Thank God the right people were placed in our path,” Anna said. “Colleen was our little guardian angel. We’re so truly blessed.”
About the author
Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.
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