Ochsner CEO: 1,160 Surgeries and Medical Procedures Delayed

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana’s largest hospital system, Ochsner Health, delayed more than 1,160 surgeries and medical procedures across the system over the past week because the hospitals are swamped with COVID-19 patients, system CEO Warner Thomas said Thursday.

The hospitals had too few beds and health care staff amid record-breaking number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Louisiana.

“That is a significant disruption for other patients that we could not take care,” Thomas said in a Thursday briefing with reporters.

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Louisiana’s daily statewide hospital count stood at 3,013 in numbers released at midday Thursday. The number was down by nine from the previous day — the first time since Aug. 2 that the hospitalization numbers didn’t set a record. But the number continues to hover over 3,000, far surpassing hospitalizations during three previous coronavirus surges in Louisiana that topped at or near 2,000.

The Ochsner system also turned down 150 patient transfer requests from other health care facilities, for people who had medical issues requiring more specialized care than they were currently receiving, officials said Thursday.

The state Health Department reported 5,550 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 infections Thursday, with 58 newly reported deaths. The department said 89% of cases reported from Aug. 5 to Aug. 11 involved unvaccinated people, while 80% of deaths in that period involved the unvaccinated. Unvaccinated patients account for 91% of those currently hospitalized, according to the state figures.

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Vaccination rates in the state continue to rise, but the percentages remain well below national rates. The Health Department reported Thursday that more than 2.2 million people or more than 47% of the state’s population had gotten an initial shot of vaccine; more than 1.8 million, more than 39%, are fully vaccinated. A week ago the figures were about 45% and 38%, respectively.

Earlier this week, the Beauregard Health System Hospital in DeRidder temporarily halted all elective surgeries and procedures amid the hospital’s battle against COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer David Jones told the American Press in Lake Charles that all available physicians and nurses have been moving from the surgical unit to the emergency department to assist with the overwhelming number of patients seeking medical attention for COVID-19 symptoms.

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“It is literally an all-hands-on-deck situation right now. Every day is about adapting and working as hard as we can to take care of our sickest, which right now is our COVID patients,” Jones said.

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