Influx of Hispanic Immigrants Creates Need for Increased Prenatal, Maternity Care in New Orleans
Hispanic immigrants who moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are creating an "unprecedented" demand for prenatal and maternity care services, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Since Katrina, New Orleans has gained an additional 4,000 Hispanic immigrants, who largely are helping rebuild the city, according to data released in November 2006 by the Louisiana Recovery Authority. East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, La., estimates a 35% increase in its Hispanic births from 2005 to 2006 and a related decrease in the portion of its patients with insurance from 57% to 30%. Tulane-Lakeside Hospital in Metairie now averages 30 to 50 Hispanic births a month, but saw few before Katrina, according to hospital CEO André Duplessis. The Louisiana Office of Public Health reported the number of Hispanic women seeking pregnancy and childbirth-related services in Metairie and Marrero health units was 1,522 in 2005 and increased to 3,868 in 2006. According to the Times-Picayune, "Measuring the size of the post-Katrina Hispanic baby boom reported by some hospitals and clinics ... is tricky, partly because fewer locations are delivering babies, inflating the numbers in the remaining maternity wards." Area doctors say the increased demand for prenatal and maternity care services by Hispanics brings extra challenges, such as language barriers, immigration issues and a lack of health insurance, which sometimes results in many immigrants foregoing prenatal care, according to Times-Picayune. Area hospitals also are reporting an increase in high-risk deliveries as a result of patients foregoing care and the added time involved in providing services with the use of a interpreter (Waller, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.