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Balancing life and death After having fought ovarian cancer for years,


55-year-old Connie Klaus was not ready to lie down and die—especially with a new granddaughter arriving in two weeks. “Despite having been told she only had days


to weeks to live, she refused to talk about dying, or hospice or anything other than being here for the delivery of her daughter’s baby,” says Debbie Ridgley, RN, nurse coordinator of Palliative Care at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. “My mom was very good at trying to hide her condition,” says Suzie Klaus.


“She always


gave the impression that she was strong and never ill.” In reality, Connie was undergoing daily


blood transfusions and becoming weaker by the day as her body began to shut down. “I was under the impression Mom had a


few months, and months obviously shrank to weeks,” recalls Suzie, who was pregnant with her first daughter. “All I wanted was for her to watch her grandbabies grow. The thought of her not here with me and my kids, the heart- wrenching feeling of watching her slowly fade away, the realization that there was nothing I could to do to save her … it was unbelievable.” Connie’s doctors were fearful that she


wouldn’t be able to take part in Suzie’s delivery because it was scheduled at Providence Holy Family Hospital. Suzie called her physician, Dr. Ron Hardy, in tears, asking if he would consider delivering the baby at Providence Sacred Heart instead, due to her mother’s condition. At first, the answer was no. Staff members at the two hospitals began conferring about whether a two-way video call through Skype could be arranged as an alternative. “Fortunately, Dr. Hardy called me back and


was more than willing to accommodate the request to deliver at Sacred Heart,” says Suzie. “Bless his heart for making it work! Sacred Heart also took me in with open arms and was so gracious on such short notice.” Mary Ann, Suzie’s maternity nurse, and


Debbie went to work on the logistics of bringing both patients together on the day of Baby Olivia’s birth. “We didn’t want a newborn coming to visit the unit where Connie was,” Debbie explains. Instead, the Birth Place staff reserved the room right next to Suzie’s delivery room for her mother, so Connie would be close at hand while waiting patiently for the baby to arrive.


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