My Nola My Story: Generations of Nursing


My Nola My Story: Generations of Nursing




Black Nurses


In this video I highlight the health care system of New Orleans by interviews a black family with four generation fo black nurses.


Chloe Ward



Mass Communications Department of Xavier University at Louisiana




Original Format


The city of New Orleans is one of the blackest cities in the nation, with the city being 57% black with around 380,000 black residents. However, only 16% of registered nurses in Louisiana are black, and only 11.5% of nurses are black in the country. I have decided to speak to the Altman family, who have three generations of black nurses in the family, about their experiences working in the New Orleans area.
Wanda Altman has over 35 years of experience working as a nurse in the New Orleans area, and her daughter Nicole Freeman, has spent the last 20 years working in the area as well

Well what made me decide to be a nurse is that my grandmother was a nurse. And I really wanted to be a teacher. And she said, she told me”Girl you gone starve to death”. And so, I’m so glad she suggested it and I followed suit because nursing is awesome. Anything you want to do, you can do it in nursing. If you want to teach, and I taught nursing for a while, research you can do research you can do informatics, you can do clinical, you can be an administrator in nursing administration. It’s awesome.
Well, I wanted to be a journalist as it were and then my mom told me I needed to go into something where I was going to earn a living right out of college and that would be nursing. My moms a nurse, my grandmother, my great grandmother was a nurse so I fell into it I guess you might say. And I applied to Hampton and they had a great nursing program and I went into the nursing field

um so some of the Progressive things that I've noticed um over the years is the African-American Community we have stepped up in our um efforts with being more in tune to our health care I have noticed that I have noticed we work out more than we ever have um especially in New Orleans um an increase in just staying on top of our annual um things so if you're over 45 having your colonoscopies done um having your regular diabetic checkups if you are um say pre-diabetic or predisposed to that kind of thing um just all sorts of uh Health Hallmarks that have been made as it relates to advances in the African-American community

absolutely hospitals are and I don't know it doesn't feel like it's always been this bad but it has definitely been a challenge to keep staff because they have so many options now and they travel and people want to travel and I get that when you're young you're single and you're a new nurse you do want to travel you want to see the world I did it so I understand um the need to want to go out but it definitely hurts the um the local Hospital situation so um you know and it's it's the ratios are not optimal in fact I was in the heart of the pandemic um until I got covered in July of 2020 and so what we saw was that the teams really came together and we had a coveted unit one of the units they designated for a covet unit and so there were staffing issues because a lot of people did not want to work with coping patients because of course it was a new virus coronavirus and it was a lot of unknown uncertainty but they know they had to isolate and they would really wear gear like almost like the Ebola if you ever saw that Ebola movie they had math they had Shields they had full PPE garments gloves up to a year you know but the team seemingly from what I was an administrator but my staff of registered nurses in case men and social workers worked with you know the patients a lot of things they had to do by phone because of the covet um and so they would even teach by phone discharge planning and that kind of thing and they would um talk to the families even by phone because at that time you know they stopped any visitors there was no visitors coming into the hospital at covet and everything basically you know it's shut down

for one we don't take care of ourselves being in the South it is um very difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a lot of ways because we eat poorly and I don't know if I should say that African-Americans we eat poorly we like everything fried and I think it's a southern thing too for everything's fried so my friends came in from Hampton this week she had a Speech Pathology convention it was a couple of them from Hampton and um so we always get together when every one of us is in the next person's town so she's like after the first meal she was like oh my God Nicole is there anywhere and we can go and get something that's not fried and she's like in Virginia you have to really go out of your way to find fried food but here you have to go out of your way to find grilled baked steamed smoked you know what I mean everything but fried so with that comes health problems as we know in African Americans we're more predisposed to diabetes high blood pressure all of the other 99 cardiovascular diseases there are out there so it is a constant um to what I'm looking for there's constant education and re-education and pushing a healthy lifestyle in the African-American community of course because of it being predominantly black there is some disparity there's Health Care disparity in the treatment methodologies for black patients as it is opposed to White patients and of course in some instances is blatant and other instances they try to camouflage it but there is a overt disparity and Health Care um in the New Orleans area and I worked at Charity Hospital and the charity is like our University it's an academic facility I worked there for years and even in that environment where it's a state-owned it was a state-owned hospital until it was still Katrina and being a state-owned facility you would think that they know they're going to get patients that are underinsured and uninsured as well as by being a level four Trauma Center if people have an accident they would come there but there's there was some overt disparities

when a patient came into the emergency room I encoded and the doctor actually opened the chest in the emergency room to do manual see the compressions it was a gunshot wound and so it was it was unlike charity it wasn't at charity it was at Saint Cloud General and because in charity you have something called room four and it actually can turn into any um operating room because you have the huge lights and all the sterile um equipment and you have that flow of air that uh that prevents um contaminated air from coming in that in the back foot but it was very interesting to see the surgeon Dr Gibson I don't know if I get his name actually we call it crack the joints but he did a surgical incision and did Manual yeah CPR the patient came out of a bad rhythm and for a short period of time had a good heartbeat but eventually that patient did expire so my most memorable experience in nursing was at here at University Hospital and a guy comes in and he's like we need a wheelchair she's having a baby so we all run out there to the car the seat is leaned all the way back she's laying there legs open but still has a pair of like terry cloth shorts on the baby's face is in the shorts the head is out the neck is there and you can literally see the imprints of the baby's face the nose everything right there and all we could do was cut her shorts off right there in the at the driveway of the emergency room and deliver the baby in the car that is my most memorable experience and that had to be 1998.99

it's wonderful it is nursing is a whole wonderful feelings to tell my students the wonderful thing about nursing is you can be basically whatever you wanted to do because of the diversity and that if you're good to nursing it'll be very good to you.


Date Added
November 15, 2022
Item Type
Moving Image
Chloe Ward, “My Nola My Story: Generations of Nursing,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed June 17, 2024,