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Family of New Orleans child battling brain cancer fears COVID crowding at hospitals

The COVID-19 surge is compromising many hospitals’ ability to treat other patients
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ochsner says in the past week it has been forced to decline 175 transfer patient requests from other hospitals due to the surge in COVID hospitalizations.

It’s not just Ochsner’s system feeling the squeeze. Every hospital in the area is filling up and non-COVID patients are starting to see the consequences.

Walker Beery, 9, was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer two years ago and has relapsed twice. This time around his parents switched up the treatment and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama for an immunotherapy trial.

“Any family that’s fighting cancer knows well there’s a variety of things that will send you to an ER, occasionally to an intensive care unit,” Taylor Beery said. “We are not saved from that. Walker had two trips just in the last several days to the ER.”

His father, Taylor Beery, says Walker is doing well despite that, always closely monitoring his pediatric brain cancer fundraising organization “Kids Join the Fight”.

“He finds joy and a smile and a dance at really unbelievable times,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

This weekend they have a break in radiation treatments and wanted to come home to New Orleans, but decided to stay.

“We are glad we’re in Birmingham, despite how much we love our care at New Orleans Children’s because the demands that COVID is currently placing on the hospital system at home, raises very serious concerns whether or not Walker could get the kind of treatment that he needs at this stage with this disease,” Taylor said.

Children’s Hospital is very busy but hasn’t had to turn anyone away, this week welcoming a federal team to help with COVID patients.

“Unbelievably dedicated, committed, and caring people who are being pushed to limits that are unreasonable,” Taylor said.

For the Beery’s, it breaks down into simple facts. Their son, like many others, needs critical care and our health systems are compromised filled with COVID patients that are 90-percent unvaccinated.

“There seems to be a disconnect between understanding that supporting our families, supporting kids with cancer, and the way that we approach the COVID pandemic, are all intensely intertwined,” Taylor said. “I think a lot of the people who love Walker, love our family, or who are very aware of the tragic underfunding of pediatric cancer or the challenges that these kids are facing aren’t making the connection to what some of the decisions they’re making, how that plays into the way those kids are cared for.”

Walker will complete his radiation treatment in Birmingham on the August 24 and Taylor says he’s really hoping the situation has improved as they prepare to come back home.

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