Magazine article Colorlines Magazine

New Orleans' Newest Latinos: The Baby Boom Has Hit, and Activists and State Officials Respond

Magazine article Colorlines Magazine

New Orleans' Newest Latinos: The Baby Boom Has Hit, and Activists and State Officials Respond

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS IS WELCOMING a new surge of Latinos arriving not as day laborers or service workers, but as tiny citizens in delivery rooms and mobile baby units across the slowly recovering city. Latinas, some who have lived in New Orleans for years and others who have arrived to join the city's new construction workers, now constitute 63 percent of maternity patients at the Jefferson Parish Health Unit in Metairie, a town in the greater New Orleans area, up from 30 percent before the storm, according to officials there.

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Latinos were 3,1 percent of New Orleans's population in 2000 and just over 9.6 percent at the end of 2006, according to U.S. Census estimates. "I'm delivering at least 50 babies each month right now, and 85 to 90 percent of them are Hispanic," Dr. Kevin Work said.

Gina Lutz, a coordinator of the Latino Health Outreach Project at the Common Ground Health Clinic in Algiers, a suburb of the city, says she noticed an increase in the number of pregnant women seeking care last year. "One of the major challenges after the storm was that there was no insurance coverage for immigrants, so women had to go to Jefferson Parish or an emergency room to deliver, meaning no prenatal care or continuity in the care for these women and their babies." Lutz recalled.

Daughters of Charity operates the March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center, known as the Baby Van to provide prenatal care, screenings and ultrasounds with Spanish-speaking staff at three sites in the city. …

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