Health Care

Special delivery: Separated families connect via video chat in local maternity wards

U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Gregory Gossett's deployment to Afghanistan last November was especially poignant. His wife, Amanda, was pregnant with their first child, and he realized he would be in a war zone for the birth.

Fortunately, however, Amanda learned during her prenatal course at Hilton Head Hospital, that she could Internet video chat her husband during the birth right from the delivery room.

"We were really happy to accommodate the Gossetts," said Elaine Hastings, chief nursing officer at Hilton Head Hospital. "We have Wi-Fi throughout the hospital, so we are able to do Skype or other forms of video chat. It may not be the ideal solution, but for someone 6,000 miles away, it really goes a long way toward bridging the distance."

To help facilitate the communication strategy and scheduling, Amanda consulted Dr. Tracy Blusewicz, her OB/GYN. After considering several concerns, including the possibility that Amanda might be at her Bluffton home alone when she went into labor, the two agreed on an inducement date.

When the time came for husband and wife to connect via Skype, however, all did not go quite according to plan.

"Just as (Gregory) came online, there was an attack at his base and he had to turn all communication off," Amanda said. "I was a little nervous until he called me back 20 minutes later and assured me everything was fine."

Gregory stayed online from that point forward. His new son, James Bryant Gossett, arrived hearty and healthy, and his father was one of the first to see him -- from halfway around the globe.

"It was an awesome experience," Amanda said. "My husband was thrilled."