What: Woman’s Hospital
Film By: UNO student and documentarian Azaria Duncan
Editor’s Note: NolaVie partners with students of UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum, that results in a short documentary. Filmmaker Azaria Duncan interviews Rayna Graham, an employee at Woman’s Hospital, a hospital dedicated to women’s healthcare. Woman’s is especially known for its NICU unit, a specialized unit for premature babies and babies that require specialized care. Like other hospitals, Woman’s Hospital was hit hard by COVID, limiting its resources and staff. In this documentary, Rayna details how COVID has affected Woman’s Hospital, and how it has affected the babies that enter Woman’s Hospital.
[Read the full transcript of the interview below]
Rayna Graham: My name is Rayna Graham and I work at Woman’s Hospital.
Azaria Duncan: Woman’s hospital is one of only five hospitals open in East Baton Rouge parish.
Rayna Graham: The only thing that really makes Woman’s different from other hospitals is the fact that it specializes in women’s healthcare. Other than that, they’re pretty much like every other hospital.
Azaria Duncan: Woman’s is especially known for its resources for mothers and babies. It facilitates a NICU with specialists and other qualified practitioners who help prenatally, during birth, and through aftercare. Woman’s has the number one rated NICU in the city.
Rayna Graham: So the NICU is the neonatal care unit, and we primarily work with premature babies. Some of them are maybe a pound, some of them just grams. We also work with well babies, or term babies, that were born with some kind of complication, or maybe they’re too kipnic, or bradycardic, or have some other kind of disorder that would require specialized care.
Azaria Duncan: Being a new mother is extremely stressful alone, but a new concern for many is COVID-19.
Rayna Graham: As far as COVID, we had the same issues as everybody else. Resources were limited, we had to reuse gowns. Everything else that people were lacking, we lacked it too. I won’t say we lacked it because we had some things in storage, but we had to reduce our consumption.
Azaria Duncan: Because of this, new safety precautions have emerged.
Rayna Graham: All the babies were always assumed to be positive before we would start caring for them so the first thing that was done within the first day or so was the COVID test.
Azaria Duncan: This new procedure was also implemented with the mothers.
Rayna Graham: The same precautions that we used for patients that had COVID was used for every patient that came into out unit.
Azaria Duncan: These practitioners worked hard to keep numbers down. They utilized masks, suits, gloves, and frequent hand washing to combat the virus and its spread.
Rayna Graham: Initially, we didn’t even have that many COVID patients at all. It was a while. I think we saw it more on the mother’s side, on the other side of the door. Isolation was standard for a baby that might come into our unit, and everybody was extra cautious, just like everybody else.
We’re seeing more positive babies now. Now, the parents are probably bringing it in. Before, our visitation was so limited. Had a mama had it and the baby was born, she couldn’t come visit for 14 days and usually the mom would end up in the ICU or some other kind of isolation so she couldn’t come. Now, the way the visitation is, our babies are catching it, from the outside.
Azaria Duncan: Lifting the mask mandate was a decision made as vaccinations became more accessible to the state. But many of these hospitals are still recovering from the first wave of COVID.
Rayna Graham: We are really struggling right now. Our census is high, we have like 90 something babies, we have three overflow units opened. So, while they had that open we’re working with limited nurses, limited techs, everything is stretched to the limit.
Azaria Duncan: Many health workers are worried as a new variant has emerged. But will this be enough to get more safety precautions back in Louisiana?
Rayna Graham: I think somethings going to happen before then.