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San Antonio nurse among many healthcare workers caring for preemie babies over Christmas

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Karla Rodriguez is encouraged by the teamwork of fellow nurses who make her job rewarding.

SAN ANTONIO — Karla Rodriguez’s strong desire for helping others goes back to her childhood when she learned under the wing of her mother, who worked as a nurse for more than 30 years.

“I always learned how to be compassionate through her, and I always admired her work ethic, and I just felt that pull to help others and make a difference where I could in the world,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez followed in her mother’s footsteps by exploring the world of nursing. She graduated from the Baptist School of Health Professions in August 2020.

Rodriguez’s entry into the healthcare industry came during a time where the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing.

She began her job as a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at North Central Baptist Hospital in February 2021.

“I could not picture myself working with any other patient population. I love what I do,” she said. “It’s like an adult ICU but we just work with babies and the sick babies and the premature babies that came a little too early.”

The pandemic has prompted challenges for those working in healthcare, including bed capacity, staff shortages and the lingering mental health impacts.

“But the teamwork is just wonderful. It’s amazing to see everyone come together and stuff among the challenges,” Rodriguez said.

The coronavirus is a looming barricade that’s divided families.

“Sometimes there are families that can’t come see their babies because they are positive with COVID and that’s just sad all around for the families and then for the babies,” Rodriguez said.

The Stroud family recently welcomed Westley to the world. He was born five weeks early and is being cared for at North Central Baptist Hospital.

Rodriguez will be spending Christmas with her second family at Baptist Health to ensure preemies like Westley are nurtured and ready to reunite with their parents.

“It can be very challenging, but it is such a rewarding job watching the babies hit their milestones and get better and get to home with their families.”

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