- A major hurricane is expected to hit Louisiana on Sunday as hospitals in the state are straining due to COVID-19.
- Approximately 84% of Louisiana’s ICU beds are full before the hurricane has even made landfall.
- The state’s largest hospital said it is supplied and is ready to care for anyone in need.
Louisiana’s hospital system is already straining due to large numbers of COVID-19 patients, and it must now tackle another challenge head-on: a hurricane.
Hurricane Ida is expected to hit the majority of Louisiana on Sunday, and it’s supposed to be a big one. Meteorologists from The Weather Channel said the hurricane is expected to grow to at least a Category 3 storm, meaning a minimum wind speed of 111 mph.
The hurricane approaches as approximately 68% of all hospital beds in the state are filled, including 84% of all ICU beds, according to The Daily Advertiser’s hospital capacity table.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 has swept through the US and Louisiana, straining hospital resources. Insider previously reported that many hospitals in the state are approaching “major failure” and have already begun delaying non-emergency procedures and patient transfers.
“We are rapidly getting to the point where we could have a major failure of our healthcare delivery system,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a press briefing in early August. “There’s some people out there whose care is being delayed to the point where, for them, it’s already failed.”
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell called on Friday for a mandatory evacuation of any area in New Orleans outside of the city’s levee system but said that the city does not plan to evacuate any of its hospitals and that patients will remain in place.
Louisiana’s largest hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, released a statement Friday saying it has enough supplies, generators, and staff to safely provide care to its many patients throughout the hurricane.
“We are factoring in the complexity of our high COVID-19 census and ensuring we’re able to maintain care for all of our patients who need us,” said Stephanie Manson, Our Lady of the Lake’s chief operating officer. “We have the supplies, backup generators, and staffing plans necessary to accomplish this goal.”
The president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, Warner Thomas, said in a presser on Friday that Ochsner’s hospitals are also prepared to last on their own for more than a week.
Ochsner operates 40 hospitals across the state and currently has 254 patients in the ICU, 70% of which are currently on ventilators.
“All of our supplies have been ordered: Ten days of supplies, food, fuel, drugs, and medical supplies,” Thomas said. “We’re prepared for at least ten days.”
Ochsner’s chief operating officer, Mike Hulefeld, said that the most unique obstacle for the hospital system as the hurricane approaches is providing housing for all of the staff while also maintaining proper coronavirus health and safety protocols.
Both Ochsner and Our Lady of the Lake said their hospitals are coordinating with state authorities to obtain additional resources, if necessary.
Regardless of the ongoing strain on hospitals, the CEO of Ochsner said they’ll take in anyone in need of help.
“Our capacity is limited, but if folks come we’re going to take care of them,” Thomas said.