The influx of Hispanic workers after Hurricane Katrina is creating a baby boom in the New Orleans area
In the darkened examination room of an Uptown clinic, with the ultrasound monitor flipped on, the doctor and the pregnant woman talked about her baby -- or tried to, each speaking a different language.
Dr. Kevin Work relied on assistant Maria Cruz to translate his patient's Spanish as he checked up on Leonila Galindo, who arrived in the New Orleans area from Honduras nine months ago.
"She wanted to know if she's going to get another C-section," Cruz relayed to Work.
"Where did she have her last baby?" the doctor asked. Then Cruz spoke to Galindo, 31, who is seven months into her third pregnancy. Cruz turned back to Work: "Honduras."
"Tell her this one will be a lot better, a lot faster," he said.
An obstetrician-gynecologist, Work dedicates much of his practice to the influx of Hispanic workers who arrived after Hurricane Katrina. Along with other health care professionals in the New Orleans area, he reports the immigrants are creating unprecedented demand for prenatal and maternity care.
And the newcomers bring extra challenges, including the language barrier, immigration issues and limited financial means. Some of them, lacking money and insurance and worried the health care system will expose them to immigration enforcement, wait too long to seek care, doctors said.
The fact that Hispanic mothers are here having babies at all, other observers said, is a sign that Hispanic families who were attracted by the surge in construction jobs and other work in the Katrina recovery are settling into the New Orleans area for good.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated almost 100,000 Hispanics arrived in the Gulf Coast hurricane strike zone in 2005.
Influx Of Hispanic Immigrants Creates Need For Increased Prenatal, Maternity Care In New Orleans
The Changing Face of New Orleans
Katrina Begets a Baby Boom by Immigrants
Latino New Orleans