Helping Rural Families Connect to Care

The last 18 months have been a trying time for the Hendrickx family. In May 2016, during a routine ultrasound, Jayne and Jeff found out they were having twins, which led to excitement and anticipation. Those feelings quickly changed to concern in July when they discovered their unborn twin girls were experiencing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition where blood vessels connect the umbilical cords and affect the babies’ circulation.

The Hendrickxs, who live in New York Mills, began receiving treatment at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis and made the six-hour round trip drive many times over the next several weeks. They were admitted to Children’s Hospital in early August and their daughters, Julia and JoAnn, were born Aug. 21, 2016. The joy experienced when a child is born turned to heartbreak as Julia died nine days after birth from complications related to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Her twin sister, JoAnn, who was born at 1 lb.,12 oz., spent 102 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital.

The Hendrickxs were faced with the incredibly difficult task of coping after the loss of Julia while moving forward with the intense care that JoAnn needed in order to continue gaining strength. Because JoAnn was born prematurely, she had bronchopulmonary dysplasia, meaning her lungs hadn’t fully developed. She was on oxygen while in the NICU, but made great gains leading up to her discharge from the hospital in late November 2016 where she was breathing completely on her own.

JoAnn’s condition requires ongoing monitoring and appointments, which have been made easier for the family through St. Cloud Hospital’s Virtual Health capabilities. Instead of making the drive to Minneapolis for her respiratory appointments, the Hendrickxs are able to travel to St. Cloud Hospital – a closer and more convenient location — and connect with their pediatric pulmonologist in Minneapolis using technology.

“Only having to travel to St. Cloud has been wonderful,” said Jayne. “It saves us time and reduces our stress significantly. We’re so thankful to the staff at St. Cloud Hospital — everyone is so helpful and understanding and it’s made this experience much easier for us.” JoAnn recently celebrated her first birthday and is doing remarkably well. She’s hitting her developmental milestones and weighs almost 20 lbs.

With Virtual Health, CentraCare is connecting people across central Minnesota to the advanced care they need, using technology. This includes stroke, neurology, behavioral health and specialty care services. CentraCare has partnered virtually with Minneapolis-based Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists since 2015.

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