Babies have a way of entering the world with a bang. Such was the case with Kimecia Taylor’s first-born, Ava, who was safely delivered eight years ago by emergency c-section after putting her mom through an exhausting day and a half of labor.
As children do, Ava changed Kim and her husband Adrian’s world forever. But on the day she was born, so did the remarkable CRNA who was involved in Kim’s labor and delivery.
Kim recalls that she’d been a bedside nurse for about two years at the time she was pregnant with Ava, but she was completely oblivious to the nurse anesthesia profession. She had become immersed in nursing leadership and was in the process of transitioning from the bedside to a full-time leadership role.
At 36 weeks, Kim was scheduled to be induced due to preeclampsia. “I was expecting a Hollywood-production delivery like Moms in the movies,” she laughed. “But it turned out to be the complete opposite. After about 36 hours of laboring, we were finally close, and I bore down to facilitate the delivery.”
But unbeknownst to Kim, Ava’s life was suddenly in jeopardy due to a nuchal cord x3, and her heart rate was plummeting. “My OB could not be reached so an unknown physician stormed into the room and yelled repeatedly, ‘To the OR STAT!’” Kim remembers being “clueless” as to what was occurring while everyone in the room started moving extremely fast to get her into surgery; however, no one was communicating any information to her. “An unbearable amount of anxiety, fear, and panic set in,” she said. “I thought my baby had passed away.”
As Kim was being rushed to the OR, it was then that “a man in blue hospital scrubs” grabbed her hand and told her gently but confidently, “Your baby is in distress, and we are going to get her out safely. You are in great hands.” Kim sighed in relief and her panic dissipated. The “blue scrubs wearer” had already placed her epidural, injected medication to numb her from the chest down, and protected her airway. Kim was prepped and an emergent c-section was successfully and painlessly performed.
“After recovering from my epidural and light sedation, the only thing I could think was ‘the person who grabbed my hand…that is what I want to do!’” Kim vividly recalls. “That was my first encounter with a CRNA. His sincere spirit and advanced knowledge left a remarkable impression.” Kim said that as soon as she could, newborn in her arms, she started researching the nurse anesthetist’s role and the requirements for program consideration and making prompt plans to pursue a career in nurse anesthesia.
“I truly contribute this very event, the confidence and knowledge of my provider, and my enlightened perspective of the immeasurable bounds of nursing, to the reason why I have dedicated myself to the nurse anesthesia profession,” Kim said.
The CRNA who calmed Kim and helped deliver Ava was Dwayne Accardo, DNP, CRNA, director of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Nurse Anesthesia program. Several years later, during Kim’s interview for admission to the UTHSC program, she reminded Dwayne about the time she “met him” for the first time and told him it was the reason she was there.
“It was the coolest thing ever,” he recalls. “That I made such an impression it changed her entire career course was amazing to me. Now she’s my colleague. It’s the greatest compliment someone can have, and it underscores the kind of impact that we, as CRNAs, have on people’s lives.”
Kim completed her education at UTHSC and became a CRNA in 2021. “When I graduated, I was so appreciative for the privilege of obtaining my doctorate in nursing practice with a specialty in anesthesia,” she said. “And I was so grateful that I would finally be able to serve patients in this way.”
Today Kim works as a CRNA at Regional One Health in Memphis. She and Dwayne remain close friends and colleagues. “I always thank Dr. Accardo for believing in me and affording me such a grand opportunity to be a part of the greatest profession,” she said.