Life is an endless series of doors:
Robin and Baby Kaynan
There were no rattles waiting for him at home; there were addictive painkillers in prescription bottles – and for this innocent baby boy, a future of being raised behind one of society’s darkest doors.
Born to an OxyContin-addicted mother, Kaynan* was removed from his mother’s custody by Child Protective Services and placed in the care of his grandmother, Robin*, who provided him with what his biological mother could not: a safe home and tender loving care.
But all the TLC in the world couldn’t soothe the intense drug withdrawals. OxyContin is an effective, long-lasting pain reliever when used correctly under a prescribed dosage. But when the drug is snorted, smoked or injected, it produces a powerful, quick high comparable to heroin; the withdrawals are equally intense. The high is one of the highest, and the low is one of the lowest.
With his violent outbursts – including kicking, screaming and vomiting – little Kaynan felt the excruciating withdrawal pains immediately after his birth. It was overwhelming for Robin, whose only child-rearing experience was with Kaynan’s mother more than 20 years ago.
“I thought, somebody shake me and wake me up from this nightmare. And then Pediatric Home Care did that for me,” Robin said.
Their gas tanks often run on empty, but their fuel is never drained. Woman’s pediatric home health nurses are driven to help those who can’t help themselves: sick children in the Baton Rouge community.
Highly trained to provide everything from parental education to injections to wound care, these nurses are the reason why Woman’s Pediatric Home Care has one of the lowest re-hospitalization rates in the country, meaning that children get well at home and aren’t in and out of the hospital.
“These children have nowhere else to go,” Claudia Kammer, director of Home Care, said. “We are one of the very few home health agencies that care for children, and those that do often don’t last very long. They don’t maintain their service for children because Medicaid reimbursement levels are too low to make it worth their time.”
But at Woman’s, every child, no matter their family’s financial status, is worth the time. Approximately 40 to 60 percent of Woman’s home care children are on Medicaid. Though the need for additional funds is increasing, Woman’s has not received a reimbursement increase and multiple cuts have been implemented over the past 15 years.
Woman’s Pediatric Home Care is the largest provider of pediatric home health in this area, covering a 25-mile radius. Nineteen nurses make approximately 8,500 healthcare visits to children each year. With continued support from the community, Pediatric Home Care can help thousands of children grow up to be healthy adults.
Nurse Melissa Petite has been working to help Robin painstakingly wean six-week-old Kaynan off his OxyContin addiction. The tremors have begun to subside. His tense body has begun to relax. He is finally starting to cry less and sleep more.
Robin credits her friends, John and Dee, with helping her get through this ordeal. She now counts Melissa as a friend, too.
“I have Melissa’s personal cell phone number. I call her constantly, and she helps me even when she’s not working,” Robin said. “The support system at Woman’s is truly amazing. Everyone saw how destroyed I was, and they’re helping me through it.”
“You can’t go out into the community and see what we see and not have a heart,” Jill Comeaux, Home Care RN, said. “Without community support for this program, there will be babies who won’t make it.”