HSC staff member; mentor; patient; and mom to patient—Karmen Bridges shares her story in honour of HSC’s 150th anniversary
How many adults can say that they became what their five-year-old self wanted to be when they grew up? Karmen Bridges can.
By grade one, Bridges knew she wanted to work in obstetrics—the branch of medicine that specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and post partum. Bridges’s interest was first piqued by the infamous TV show, A Baby Story, and was further inspired by her high school biology teacher.
At 18, Bridges moved from Russell to Brandon to study nursing and since graduating from Brandon University eight years ago, Bridges has been a nurse, specializing in obstetrics, at HSC. Today, Bridges is a clinical nurse educator at HSC Winnipeg Women’s Hospital.
Since HSC Women’s Hospital treats the highest-risk maternity patients between Ontario and British Columbia, Bridges has cared for some of the sickest moms and babies. “If some
of these patients weren’t pregnant, they would be in the ICU,” says Bridges, who has worked on all units at HSC Women’s Hospital and is currently the educator on the Labour and Delivery Unit.
During her time at HSC Women’s Hospital, Bridges has provided compassionate care to thousands of moms—including one of her friends who delivered on Bridges’s first day back at work from her own maternity leave.
As one of five nurse educators at HSC Women’s Hospital, Bridges mentors the next generation of nurses. In fact, one of those nurses—Marilyne—was Bridges’s obstetrics nurse when she delivered Kenton, her second child, at HSC Women’s Hospital.
“I have seen the health care team here save many lives—there’s nowhere else I’d want to go. Marilyne was so smart, thorough, and caring. And she also knew that something wasn’t right after Kenton was born,” says Bridges.
When Bridges was 36 weeks pregnant with Kenton, she required an iron transfusion that triggered a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Bridges’s legs turned black and blue, her heartrate spiked, and Kenton’s heart rate flattened. After hers and Kenton’s heart rate stabilized, she was discharged—but felt something wasn’t quite right.
When Bridges delivered Kenton two weeks later, he was born through thick meconium (stool ingested when the infant is in the uterus), which he aspirated at birth. Kenton’s skin appeared dusky, he slept often, and his breathing was laboured. Upon learning that his breathing was three times faster than normal, Bridges and Kenton rushed to HSC Children’s Hospital Emergency.
The next nearly four weeks in the hospital was a taxing journey of studies, appointments, and hoping for answers. Kenton went through genetic testing and swallow studies, and had two lung biopsies before he was five weeks old. After the second biopsy, a foreign substance was discovered deep in Kenton’s lungs: meconium consolidation, which doctors expected caused an atypical pneumonia. After it was determined safe to do so, Kenton was discharged with an oxygen monitor and a feeding tube to recover at home.
At 10 months old, Kenton received an x-ray that showed his lungs were clear of the meconium. He has scar tissue and a puffer in case he needs; otherwise, Kenton is a happy, healthy baby.
“HSC is an amazing place—we are lucky to have some of the best care in the country right here in Manitoba. Donations to the hospital help enable that care and help patients and their families receive the best treatment possible during some of the worst times of their life,” says Bridges.
This year marks 150 years of health care leadership, compassion, and innovation—beginning with the establishment of the Winnipeg General Hospital (WGH) in December 1872. In 1972, the WGH merged with Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg and The Manitoba Rehabilitation Hospital–D.A. Stewart Centre (Respiratory Hospital) and became Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC).
For the past 50 years, HSC has continued to be a leader in Manitoba and across Canada.
Keep an eye on hscfoundation.mb.ca throughout the year to learn more about the history of Manitoba’s provincial tertiary hospital, and how technology and services have advanced, thanks to donor support.
By Natasha Havrilenko