Early birth successful thanks to teamwork, telemedicine

For more information, contact: Tim Burke, 651-409-3030

OWATONNA, Minn., May 20, 2019 — One of several winter snowstorms in February that closed schools, businesses and roadways and led to many weather-related cancellations across southern Minnesota also happened to be the day that little Haley Marie Wrobleski, daughter of Erick Wrobleski and Samantha Steiskal of Owatonna, decided to enter the world much earlier than anyone could have anticipated. 

At 26 weeks into her pregnancy, Samantha Steiskal began having contractions late in the evening of February 19 that would not stop. Erick Wrobleski recalls waking up at 10:23 p.m. and discovered she was having complications in the bathroom at their home. He called 9-1-1 and minutes later was following an ambulance in blizzard-like conditions to Allina Health’s Owatonna Hospital, just a few miles from their house. Less than 10 minutes from their arrival at the hospital, the baby was born at 11:03 p.m. weighing only 2.5 lbs.

When it became apparent that baby was on her way and the inclement weather made the transportation to a higher level birthing center not possible, the team of nurses and providers at Allina Health’s Owatonna Hospital swiftly jumped into action. The team initially mobilized their local pediatrician, Mary Rahrick, M.D., and the care team to lead the resuscitation and stabilization of baby Haley. They also activated a new telemedicine technology service known as teleneonatology, a real-time video connection to a neonatologist (pediatric specialist who assists with ill newborns and premature births) at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Using a mobile device the medical team had expert help in the room from Christopher Colby, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neonatologist, who was on-call that evening. Applying the secure video technology, Dr. Colby was able to partner with the local care team and communicate with them while observing what the pediatrician and nurses saw as they cared for Samantha during the emergent labor and delivery.

The team in Owatonna responded swiftly to stabilize the baby. We are fortunate to have such talented care teams like the one led by Dr. Rahrick,” says Dr. Colby. “It was excellent teamwork and resulted in a safe delivery under the circumstances and perhaps through our telemedicine the transition to newborn life went more smoothly.”

Haley was transported later that night by Mayo Clinic Medical Transport the NICU at Mayo Clinic Hospital – Saint Marys Campus in Rochester. There, she has received ongoing specialized care and her dad reports she is doing well and achieving the milestones needed in order to go home. “Haley came out fighting and has been doing really well for being born so early,” says Erick Wrobleski. “We are grateful for the expertise and phenomenal care from doctors and nurses in Owatonna and in Rochester.”

“The teleneonatology technology we have available here, locally, offers our patients a coordinated care experience and peace of mind,” says Sue Shaft, manager of Owatonna Hospital Birth Center. “We’re able to provide expert care quickly, safely and in real-time. And, if a transfer is needed, we’re quickly able to get our patients to a higher level of care.”

Owatonna Hospital and Mayo Clinic partnered to offer this unique service for obstetrics in Owatonna in January, 2019. Teleneonatology is one of the many ways Mayo Clinic extends knowledge and care to more people through innovative telemedicine platforms that improve access and outcomes for patients and collaboration with other providers and researchers. In Owatonna, it is now available 24/7, 365 days of the year. Haley’s mother says she is grateful that the technology to connect with an expert was in place at the time Haley decided to arrive. “I’m so glad we had access to it in Owatonna,” says Steiskal. “She might not be here if we had not had that available to us.”


About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services.

Samantha Steiskal and Eric Wrobleski hold their daughter, Haley. Her early arrival at 26 weeks’ gestation amidst a snowstorm in February was assisted with the help of neonatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester via telemedicine technology.
Samantha Steiskal and Eric Wrobleski hold their daughter, Haley. Her early arrival at 26 weeks gestation amidst a snowstorm in February was assisted with the help of neonatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester via telemedicine technology.