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NICU staff stayed behind to care for preemie patients during Hurricane Laura



Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/05/20

Putting aside their own fears, these medical professionals ensured their vulnerable patients continued to get the care they needed.

A team of medical professionals at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Louisiana recently demonstrated just how dedicated they are to their tiny patients.

With hurricane Laura wreaking havoc, the hospital staff — including neonatologist Dr. Juan Bossano, along with 14 nurses, 2 neonatal nurse practitioners and 3 respiratory therapists — stayed to care for their vulnerable patients overnight, according to

“It’s important to know the dedication of all the nurses and the respiratory therapists to keep taking care of the babies when they don’t even know the condition of their homes,” Bossano pointed out. “In a small town like this, people have to pull together. I’m proud of them.”

With wind gusts reaching 120-135 mph as the eye of the hurricane crossed, the town affected a mandatory evacuation. Yet the team remained in place, taking turns caring for the babies in shifts, through a scary night.

With some of the babies born at just 23 weeks, weighing one or two pounds, the staff relies on emergency generators to fuel the essential respirators and ventilators to keep the babies alive. Yet as conditions worsened they were also concerned that the hospital itself would withstand the battering winds.

“It was scary for everyone,” said Alesha Alford, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women’s vice president and administrator. “When the winds got so bad, we had to move our patients into the hallways. Staff were sleeping in the hallways with patients.”

And during the chaos of the storm, Bossano also thought about the patients’ anxious parents, so he kept them up-to-date with posts on Facebook sharing how the babies were doing “better than all of us.”

Impressively, this stressful night came after the babies had already been transferred from the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women to its main facilities due to fears of flooding. Dr. Bossano, with over 30 years’ experience, shared how the process of getting these 19 babies to safety from the other side of the city took only two hours.

To top off all the chaos and anxiety caused by the hurricane, the main hospital also lost its water supply in the evening, requiring the babies to take one further trip to hospitals in the region that had room and facilities to welcome them.

The director of communications for Lake Charles Memorial Health system, Matt Felder, spoke of the team’s incredible dedication in ensuring the safety of these tiny babies as “a bright spot in this horrific tragedy our community is facing.”

If you’re expecting a baby in the coming months, take a look at the slideshow to see what essentials a Catholic mom should pack in her hospital bag:


Read more:
Today, preemies have twice the survival rate of 10 years ago

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