Fourth COVID-19 surge putting a strain on hospitals

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - COVID-19 is on the rise again in Louisiana, and that could have serious implications on hospitals.

On July 26, Our Lady of the Lakes, one of the largest hospitals in the state, delayed all elective surgeries until further notice.

Governor John Bel Edwards is concerned about how the surge will affect hospitals.

“We are stressing our healthcare delivery system again to unacceptable levels,” Edwards said. “And it’s not just a problem with Covid. If you have an automobile accident, a stroke, if you have a heart attack, you need to have the staff and the beds available to you. You need to have the ICU capacity.”

Thomas Gullatt is the Chief Medical Officer at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe. He says the hospital has had to expand its ICU space after an influx of patients.

“Over the last three weeks, we have had to increase to two intensive care units, as well as add an additional floor unit to accommodate the increased patients,” said Gullatt.

He added that in order to minimize the number of people in the hospital, they have had to make changes to their visitor policy.

“We are allowing one person per individual patient hospitalized to visit per day,” Gullatt said.

Hospitals in Northeast Lousiana are seeing a surge, but not to the same levels that are being seen in the southern portions of the state. Gullatt thinks that will allow St. Francis to continue elective procedures for the time being.

“We certainly on continuing to provide those services to the community and patients that need it,” Gullatt said. “So at this point, we don’t have any plans to curtail those services.”

Interestingly enough, one place that hasn’t seen a rise in cases in nursing homes. Experts say that is due to high levels of vaccination among the older populations.

One age group that is seeing a significant rise in cases is young people. Last week, people 5-29 made up nearly 40% of the state’s new covid cases, with 18% of them being children under the age of 18.

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