Hospitals in Louisiana are preparing for a category 4 hurricane after having already been full of patients infected with Covid due to the rapid increase in infections. The hurricane is expected to crash on Sunday.
The top health official for New Orleans, Jennifer Avegno said that they were finding themselves dealing with a natural disaster again, amidst a pandemic.
Louisiana Hospital Much More Prepped For Hurricane Ida
Residents were asked by her to prep for both.
Forecasts say that Hurricane Ida is going to arrive late Sunday along the Louisiana coast. The strength of the hurricane is expected to be Category 4. This entails winds with speeds of up to 150 mph.
The highly contagious delta variant caused the spike in Covid cases along with low vaccination rates and this storm is expected to hit hospitals and intensive care units hard.
The daily tallies of new cases jumped from a few hundred through spring to thousands daily toward the end of July.
Hospitalizations across the state reached a peak of about 2000 cases daily during the past 3 spikes.
The peak in August was more than 3000.
On Saturday, the number that was reported was around 2700. This is clearly still large enough to cause stress to hospitals.
John Bel Edwards, the Governor said that in threatened areas, under consideration would be the evacuation of hospitals, provided that the circumstances were normal, but due to Covid, it’s impractical as the beds were filled in Louisiana.
Edwards explained that that is not possible as there is no place to bring those patients that occupy the beds.
He added that it could not be done in the state and even out of state.
The officials at Oschner Health said that they considered moving some of their facilities closer to the coast. They run the largest hospital network in the state. They added that this would not be possible taking into account how packed other hospitals in their network are.
Ida could potentially affect about 15 of their hospitals.
Some of their patients in smaller hospitals in rural areas were evacuated to larger facilities if they had any particular medical needs.
Mike Hulefeld said that Covid has definitely made this storm more challenging.
Mike is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ochsner Health.
In other ways, the hospital says that it feels as prepared as it can be.
Mike said that the facilities that are most likely to be affected have already ordered supplies to last at least 10 days and that they are well prepared in terms of resources. A backup power that has been tested before is present at every facility. A backup fuel truck is also on-site at every facility.
If city water runs out, their hospitals are equipped with water wells too.
On Saturday and Sunday morning, the staff who were going to ride out the storm would arrive and sleep at the hospital.
Any patients that are able to leave are discharged immediately by all hospitals as a primary precaution. They are unable to reduce the patient load by a lot due to the surge in Covid cases.
Since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the hospital’s emergency systems are much more robust.
Jeff said that they had learned quite a lot since 2005. He said that to prevent flooding of key pieces of infrastructure, they are kept raised.
The generator is raised, diesel supplies are protected in University Medical Center in New Orleans, which was built after Hurricane Katrina.
A doctor, Jeff Elder, who is the medical director for emergency management at LCMC Health, said that the 6 hospitals in the system will be locked down starting Sunday.