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  • Virtual visit: Soldier in Afghanistan joins wife for ultrasound

    by Cole Cosgrove

    Half a world away in Afghanistan, the soldier’s face lit up in a huge smile as he heard his daughter’s fetal heartbeat for the first time.

    The 6,000 miles of separation didn’t seem quite so far, thanks to technology that MultiCare normally uses for “virtual visits” between a pregnant woman and her health provider.

    On Friday, MultiCare’s video chat technology allowed Spc. Mylin Elder to join his wife Ashley’s appointment in Dr. Roque Lanza’s office at MultiCare Women’s Center in Auburn, Wash.

    Mylin and Ashley watched together while Dr. Lanza performed the ultrasound and pointed at the black-and-white images of their daughter, whom they’ve named Harper.

    “Her nose is right here, she’s facing up, and her arm is over her face,” Dr. Lanza explained.

    Mylin was able to listen and watch the appointment and ask questions.

    Related story in The News Tribune: "From Auburn to Afghanistan: A heartbeat heard round the world"

    “It’s exciting to be able to incorporate him in this, to make it feel like a family event,” Ashley said. “He’s more involved, better connected.

    “He tells me, ‘Sometimes I forget that your pregnant because I’m not there.’ So I try to send him pictures of my belly -- and my swollen feet. I say, ‘Look at how swollen my feet are!’”

    Mylin deployed shortly after they found out Ashley was pregnant. When Dr. Lanza heard that Mylin was deployed, he worked with Malinda Carlile, ARNP, to set up the connection between Auburn and Afghanistan.

    “I trained in the Navy, so I know what it’s like to have moms and dads separated by distance,” Dr. Lanza said. “I think it’s cool. It’s incredible technology.”

    Mylin hopes to return home for two weeks in January, when is daughter his due.

    “Amazing,” Mylin said afterward. “It’s been a really cool experience, being able to see my daughter. I can’t wait to meet her.”

    Auburn virtual visit

    Virtual visits instead of traditional office visits during pregnancy

    The technology used to connect Ashley Elder with her husband in Afghanistan is normally used at MultiCare to connect a pregnant woman with her health care provider.

    Learn more: MultiCare's OB CareConnect, including Virtual Visits

    A woman with a low-risk pregnancy can choose to have virtual visits instead of traditional office visits. Appointments alternate between virtual visits via computer and scheduled visits with an obstetrician at his or her office.

    MultiCare has been doing virtual OB visits for more than two years, and more than 150 patients have opted for the virtual visit program.

    Watch: OB CareConnect video

    The woman signs in to a computer anywhere she has Internet access, then chats face-to-face with her health care provider. The expectant mother takes her own vital signs and uses a Baby Beat Doppler to hear the fetal heartbeat. The advanced technology increases convenience, and is just one of the many new options for pregnant women at MultiCare.

    What patients are saying about virtual visits at MultiCare

    • "The virtual visits were awesome. I couldn't imagine any other way of handling my pregnancy." 
    • "This has been a fabulous experience and very helpful. Thank you for your time and answering all my questions."
    • "I appreciated the different tools MultiCare offered me to manage my pregnancy. The virtual program allowed me to be more flexible in my schedule. What would take nearly two hours at a Dr’s office would take me 15 min with the virtual program. This allowed me to miss less work and schedule appointments much earlier in the day than available at the traditional Dr’s office. Lastly it was much more interactive than the traditional approach. It gave me an opportunity to be more engaged with the process since I was taking my own vitals and trying to find the heart beat of my baby. My husband was much more involved as well since I had the opportunity and flexibility to monitor the heartbeat from home he was more a part of the process."
    • "Yeah! I loved my virtual visits and tell everyone about them."
    • "I very much enjoyed the virtual visits."
    • "I loved the convenience of participating in the virtual program. As a second time mom, having the flexibility of meeting virtually was so great!"
    • "I loved meeting with Malinda. Working with a nurse practitioner and MD provided complementary and incredibly valuable perspective."
    • "With the virtual program, I had the opportunity to involve my three year old in my pregnancy in a way I might not have otherwise been able to. Tracking my vitals at home and listening to the baby's heartbeat with the Doppler allowed my oldest to start to get excited about being a big sister before her little sister arrived."

    Posted on Nov 19, 2013 in Women's Health