COVID-19 infections keep the pressure on Louisiana hospitals

Doctors urge the unvaccinated to get the shots
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:56 PM CDT
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Medical Intensive Care Unit
Medical Intensive Care Unit(Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography | UMMC)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The pressure is not letting up on Louisiana hospitals as new COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

Warner Thomas is president and CEO of the Ochsner Health System which has medical facilities around the state.

“We today sit at 1,063 COVID patients around our system that is up from just a week ago, we were at 821,” said Thomas.

Dr. Jeffrey Elder, Medical Director for Emergency Management at LCMC Health, discussed the latest COVID hospitalization count for the six hospitals run by LCMC.

“Today we’re up to about 190 patients across our six hospitals which is up by about a half a dozen since yesterday and so this is some of the highest case counts that we’ve seen in our hospitals with COVID, really since the pandemic started. We had higher numbers around March and early April of 2020 when the pandemic first hit New Orleans very hard,” said Elder.

He said the rapidly increasing hospitalizations are indicative of the amount of virus in the state.

“Absolutely, you know, that’s why the governor came out last week asking people to mask,” said Elder. “I think that’s a good thing, that’s one of the quickest ways that we can bring this number down is by keeping people from being exposed to COVID.”

As the highly contagious Delta variant circulates hospitals are strained.

“This is not an isolated thing, this is real, it escalates every day,” said Thomas.

Elder says patients are younger than earlier in the pandemic.

“The people that are the sickest right now in our hospitals are the unvaccinated and they’re younger, they’re in their 30s and in their 40s and in their 20s,” said Elder.

Of Ochsner’s more than 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 14 are children and there are also pregnant women sick with the virus.

“We’re seeing it in both the out-patient and in-patient arenas and currently we have 11 patients in our hospitals throughout the state, hospitalized pregnant women with COVID, none of them are fully vaccinated, so it’s alarming,” said Dr. Sandra Kemmerly of Ochsner Health.

And hospitals are having to reject transfer patients.

“With our hospitals seeing more and more COVID across the state it’s harder for even non-COVID patients sometimes to get the care they need because it’s more difficult to transfer patients from hospital to hospital,” said Elder.

Ochsner Health says in the past week it has declined 175 transfer requests due to the overload of COVID patients.

“Basically, every place that we have hospitals we are having huge issues in taking care of patients, we’re having to push non-emergency surgeries off so it is impacting other patients, we’re having to close a lot of our outpatient areas like endoscopy labs and those types of services,” said Thomas.

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