Woman gives birth at Copper Mountain ski clinic after going into emergency labor on way up Fremont Pass
February 12, 2019
A few decades ago, going into labor in Summit County was an adventure. Finding a clinic open after-hours and staffed with obstetricians was a challenge. In bad weather it was downright dangerous. For many of Summit's expecting mothers, Denver was the only legitimate option to give birth.
However, a Leadville resident who went into labor while on the road to Vail was able to give birth at the St. Anthony Copper Mountain clinic last month, showing how far Summit has progressed in providing emergency care.
Jacquelyn "Jaci" Vincent's mother-in-law, Tracy Vincent, was driving Jaci to her obstetrician in Vail on the late afternoon of Jan. 17. On the way up state Highway 91 through the Fremont Pass, Jaci went into labor. The baby was not going to wait until they climbed up over Vail Pass, nor for the 10-minute ride east to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
While they were passing Copper Mountain Ski Resort, the women made a snap decision to pull into Copper's ski clinic and seek help there. While the clinic was considered a "ski clinic," it is equipped to function as an urgent care, or an emergency care facility in certain cases. Jaci and Tracy both had experience seeking medical attention at the clinic — one of Tracy's sons sought help at the Copper clinic after he had a severe asthma attack, while Jaci herself had been treated there previously for a ski injury.
The clinic had just closed when Jaci and Tracy arrived at the ambulance bay. Tracy pleaded for help from the remaining staff, telling them that Jaci's contractions were speeding up and the baby was on the way. The clinic's nurses, physicians and staff sprung into action, preparing the young mother for birth. Their help came not a minute too soon.
"By the time we got inside I think I had two contractions before I pushed," Jaci said in a St. Anthony press release.
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Within minutes, a new life entered the world in the form of a baby girl named Mackenzie. She was born at a healthy 5 pound, 7 ounces and without the need for oxygen after birth, a rarity for Leadville babies. Jaci could not say enough good things about the people who made the mini miracle happen, including Dr. Elsie Haynes, the rotating family practice resident who took the lead on delivering the baby.
"Dr. Elsie Haynes delivered Mackenzie and was amazing through it," Jaci said, adding that mother-in-law Tracy was by her side the entire time and was an amazing support throughout the most exciting and terrifying hour of her life.
Jaci, baby Mackenzie and mother-in-law were then transported to Vail by ambulance to finally complete their original journey, to meet with Jaci's obstetrician. Father Cody was actually on his way to Copper from Vail once he got word of Jaci going into labor, and wound up needing to turn back halfway to meet his wife, mother and newborn daughter. Once there, the family was finally safe and complete thanks to the work of carers at St. Anthony Copper Mountain.
The Copper clinic, along with St. Anthony's other clinics at the base of Breckenridge and Keystone, are referred to as "ski clinics," but they also serve as medical facilities for walk-in, urgent and emergency care to all who need assistance. The clinics operate seven days a week throughout the ski season.
"We do everything, including delivering babies," said Dr. Jon Feeney, the clinic's attending physician, about the scope of services available at the resort clinics.
St. Anthony Summit spokesman Brent Boyer said that the hospital is looking at the possibility of keeping one or more of those clinics open as stand-alone urgent care facilities outside ski season, possibly year-round, in order to help bolster the county's provider network.
Luckily for the Vincents, the clinic at Copper was there exactly when they needed it. To recognize little Mackenzie's amazing birth story and to pay tribute to the folks who helped make it happen, the baby got a very fitting middle name. Welcome to the world, Mackenzie Copper Vincent.