Sixteen have died and thousands more have been hospitalized amid brutal heat in Louisiana. (Getty Images)
Six newborns from Terrebonne General Medical Center were evacuated to Ochsner Lafayette General, the hospital announced Tuesday.
All six are in stable condition and staff members at the hospital have been working extra shifts and staying late for feedings to take care of all patients, Critical Care Nurse Manager Meagan Daigle said. Other sick babies were airlifted from Ochsner hospitals to Houston Tuesday evening, where they were placed at Texas Children’s Hospital.
The transports come just days after Hurricane Ida, a powerful Category 4 storm, slammed into southeastern Louisiana Sunday, heavily damaging a number of medical facilities and knocking out power.
Ochsner Health currently has 772 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the system, limiting their capacity. Warner Thomas, Ochsner Health president, said almost 300 employees are currently quarantined with COVID-19, further hindering operations after Hurricane Ida devastated the state. All facilities in southeastern Louisiana are running on generators.
Ochsner Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart said the focus still needed to be on COVID-19 prevention over the next few weeks.
“The concern right now with everyone leaving, traveling, sheltering in small places, gathering groups together, now people may be returning to the city and region, will there be another spike in our COVID-19 patients infections,” Hart said. “Big concern for the hospitals here.”
Additionally, around 30 behavioral health patients in LaPlace were evacuated to different facilities across the state, and 90 patients from the Ochsner West Campus were evacuated.
The system plans to reopen some facilities in New Orleans Thursday and reopen some North Shore sites Wednesday. In Baton Rouge, some facilities reopened Tuesday. Ochsner Health Chief Operating Officer Mike Hulefeld said he was encouraged by the progress being made.
“We look forward to providing more of those services for our patients, we know those are needed,” Hulefeld said.
The system has booked hundreds of hotel rooms for employees left without power or water, and has also provided generators to some of the hotels that were powerless.
At Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, all facilities are under lockdown as the impact of Hurricane Ida is assessed. LCMC is using generator power, hoping to remain self-sufficient for the next week.
Outpatient and non-essential services will be closed until later this week. The system includes Children’s Hospital, Touro, University Medical Center New Orleans, New Orleans East Hospital, East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center.
Ida was one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States when it made landfall as a Category 4 around noon Sunday in Port Fourchon, Louisiana’s southernmost port located on the southern tip of Lafourche Parish. Packing sustained winds of 150 mph, the once fast-travelling storm wreaked havoc as it slowed its northern trajectory and pummeled Southeast Louisiana for half a day.
Ryan Cross, a spokesperson for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, said patient care throughout the system has not been interrupted. The system currently has around 700 patients across their Baton Rouge facilities.
“We’re doing well,” Cross said. “All of our facilities, all of our hospitals are back on regular power as of this afternoon.”
The system is scheduled to receive nine evacuated Terrebonne patients, and Cross said they will accept more if necessary. Since the system’s COVID-19 admissions have slowed down over the past two weeks, hospitals had room to take in evacuated patients.
While the system had some storm damage, Cross said the system was managing well.
“Our team is resilient, they know how to stretch, we’re going to provide the care that our state and our neighbors down in southeast Louisiana need from us,” Cross said. “And so we’re finding room and we’re taking care of these patients.”
Meanwhile in North Louisiana, St. Francis Medical Center is experiencing increased emergency room volume as a result of evacuated residents from southeast Louisiana who left in advance of Hurricane Ida. According to a press release, hospital staff are providing support for medical needs, including diabetes and dialysis care, as more evacuees arrive.
North Oaks Medical Center and its Rehabilitation Hospital, both in Hammond, are running on generator power and remain open, though the most of its clinics and outpatient services will remain closed through Wednesday, according to a press release.
North Oaks School of Radiologic Technology will remain closed through Labor Day, Sept. 6.
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