Ahead of Ida, Lafayette hospitals got a breath from latest Covid surge

The gist: Hospitals in the Acadiana region caught a much-needed breath, with Covid patient loads easing ahead of Hurricane Ida, freeing up capacity to take in patients from elsewhere in the state. 

Both Lourdes and Ochsner Lafayette General have capacity to take in patients. How many at this point is unclear. Lourdes Women’s and Children’s Hospital would receive pediatric evacuations, Lourdes announced this afternoon, but further details are unknown. 

Don’t call it a trend just yet. Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center CEO Al Patin said Sunday the Delta surge gripping the state since early July eased up as Ida took shape in the Gulf. Just last week, Ochsner’s main campus carried 110 Covid patients, roughly 25% of all Covid hospitalizations in the region at the time, and the highest experienced during the pandemic. By Friday, the number declined to 85, still a critically high caseload. 

Had Ida arrived a week ago, it’s unlikely his system would have had the space or resources to take in patients evacuated from the southeast, he said. 

Routine, over-the-weekend discharges “decompressed” Ochsner’s main campus, Patin said, clearing some out-patient cases and leaving two dozen or more beds and required staffing available. The extra headroom, a normal part of pre-storm contingency planning, would have been next to impossible had surge numbers continued to rage. 

“We don’t have an enormous amount of capacity, but we’re better today than we were seven days ago,” Patin said Sunday.

Damage assessments are still ongoing. Ochsner began coordinating transfers for 160 patients out of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. Some of those patients will come to the Lafayette area, as well as Baton Rouge and even New Orleans.