REBECCA SANTANA and MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Southern Louisiana’s hospitals, already filled with coronavirus sufferers from a fourth surge of the virus, had been dealing Sunday with one other problem — the howling Category 4 hurricane pounding the coast.
Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Lafourche Parish, close to the place Ida made landfall, reported intensive roof injury. “All sufferers and workers are high-quality right now with out harm; though, our hospital has sustained vital injury,” hospital CEO Karen Collins stated in a message relayed by way of Facebook. The hospital’s phone system was down.
“Once it’s secure to take action they’ll evacuate their small variety of sufferers,” state well being division spokeswoman Aly Neel stated in an e mail. Details on the variety of sufferers concerned weren’t instantly accessible.
Another Lafourche Parish hospital, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, reported a partial generator failure to the state. Christina Stephens, a spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards, stated the power “had not misplaced all important energy.” She stated some sufferers had been moved to a different a part of the power and the state well being division was working with the hospital.
Ida struck as hospitals and their intensive care items had been stuffed with sufferers from the fourth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparked by the extremely contagious delta variant and low vaccination charges throughout Louisiana.
Daily tallies of new instances in Louisiana went from a couple of hundred a day by means of a lot of the spring and early summer time to hundreds a day by late July. Gov. John Bel Edwards advised The Associated Press on Sunday that greater than 2,400 COVID-19 sufferers are in Louisiana hospitals, saying the state was in a “very harmful place with our hospitals.”
The governor additionally stated 22 nursing properties and 18 assisted residing services have been evacuated, although evacuating the biggest hospitals was not an possibility as a result of there merely aren’t different locations to ship them. Anticipating that energy may very well be out for weeks in locations, Edwards stated a giant focus will probably be on ensuring there may be sufficient generator energy and water at hospitals to allow them to sustain with important affected person wants equivalent to offering oxygen or powering ventilators.
“I hate to say it this fashion, however now we have lots of people on ventilators immediately they usually don’t work with out electrical energy,” he stated.
Officials at Ochsner Health, which runs the biggest hospital community in Louisiana, stated roughly 15 of the community’s hospitals are in areas doubtlessly affected by Ida. The community evacuated some sufferers with specific medical wants from small, rural hospitals to bigger services.
Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health, stated Sunday that the system determined preemptively to evacuate a smaller hospital in St. Charles Parish when the storm’s monitor shifted a bit east.
He stated 35 sufferers had been moved to different hospitals within the area over rather less than three hours. When it involves energy at their services, Mike Hulefeld stated, they’re in fairly fine condition. Three of their services in areas affected by Ida had been moved to generator energy in anticipation of dropping metropolis energy.
Later Sunday the hospital system stated they deliberate to evacuate all sufferers at two different hospitals within the system on Monday as quickly as circumstances allowed. One hospital, with 21 sufferers in Raceland, suffered roof injury whereas the opposite facility with 45 sufferers in Houma had roof injury and energy points. Other services have suffered roof injury, water leaks and a few injury to home windows that required shifting sufferers. At the hospital’s major campus simply outdoors of New Orleans, Thomas stated they’d had issues with water leaks however no structural points and had carried out some surgical procedures Sunday. They’ve had no accidents reported.
“We’ll know much more tomorrow morning when now we have daylight,” he stated.
Hulefeld stated the hospital community ordered 10 days of provides for services in areas that is likely to be affected by Ida, and every part arrived Saturday. Each facility has backup energy that was examined and a backup gas truck on-site. Many of the chain’s hospitals even have water wells in case metropolis water goes out.
With individuals evacuating and doubtlessly going to stick with family or in shelters, medical officers stated they’re involved the hurricane may translate into extra coronavirus infections in coming days simply as hospitalization numbers are taking place. Thomas stated the hospital system has seen a decline in nearly 200 coronavirus sufferers over the previous week throughout all their services.
Officials stated Sunday they’ve been making the rounds and speaking to workers within the hospitals — sometimes called the “A Team” as a result of they’re those that go into lockdown when a hurricane arrives and work till the storm passes and they are often relieved. The hurricane comes on high of the 12 months and a half lengthy pandemic that has been an incredible stress on well being care employees, and lots of are unhappy and pissed off.
“Folks understand they bought a job to do. There are individuals who have to be cared for,” Thomas stated. “But it does take a toll.”
Dr. Jeff Elder, medical director for emergency administration at LCMC Health, stated the system’s six hospitals went into lockdown mode Sunday. Employees had been going to remain on the hospitals at some stage in the storm arrived Saturday and early Sunday and would sleep there.
Elder stated one of many first issues their hospitals do when storms arrive is discharge sufferers who’re in a position to go away. However, the affected person load is excessive due to the pandemic in order that they’re not in a position to scale back by a lot. He stated the hospitals within the system are extra sturdy since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
“We’ve realized rather a lot since 2005,” he stated. Key items of infrastructure are actually raised to maintain them out of flooding. For instance, at University Medical Center in New Orleans, which was constructed after Katrina, the generator is raised, diesel provides are protected and the primary flooring doesn’t have important companies so even when flood waters get that top nothing important is misplaced.
All hospitals within the system have generator backup energy, Elder stated. He additionally careworn that communication is now significantly better between hospitals within the hospital system in addition to with varied ranges of presidency.
Melinda Deslatte reported from Baton Rouge. Associated Press reporter Kevin McGill contributed from New Orleans. Follow Rebecca Santana on Twitter @ruskygal.
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