Acadian Ambulance Chairman & CEO Richard Zuschlag sent out an "emergency alert" to all employees yesterday, in which he "begged and pleaded" with them to help get people vaccinated against COVID.
"This is an emergency, and I need your help," he says in a video. "I'm asking, pleading, begging and praying for you to help me find positive ways to get as many of our employees vaccinated as possible."
Zuschlag said addressing the virus is going to be like "a full time hurricane for the next several months" and asked employees to get as many friends and family members as they could to get vaccinated.
He shared with a clip from Children's Hospital New Orleans infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Kline, who has worked on pandemic diseases and infections diseases in children for the past 35 years. He said the delta variant is every specialist's "worst nightmare." He said he's never seen an organism with the dual shot of virulence and contagiousness like this strain has. He said it's a myth that children can't get COVID. He said "perfectly healthy children" are being admitted to the hospital with COVID, or to the ICU. Indeed, he said about half the children admitted with COVID have no underlying health conditions.
"We know the children we are seeing in the hospital are just the tip of the iceberg," he said. Many more children are getting COVID and having milder symptoms, but they are spreading the disease to their families, siblings and playmates.
"We are not powerless against COVID. We have so many tools at our disposal," Klein said, referring to masks and vaccinations. He urged parents who aren't concerned about getting COVID themselves to get vaccinated "to protect your children."
Another clip featured Dr. Catherine O'Neal, Our Lady of the Lake's chief medical officer and an infectious disease expert as well.
She talked about the struggle her hospital faces in admitting people who need trauma services, and ICU treatment. The beds are filled with COVID patients, and there are no beds for people who need them. Staffing issues are also affecting the hospital's ability to accept patients.
"There's a federal unit on the ground, who I usually meet at the P-Mac during a hurricane, and they are in our hospital. And we can't open beds, even with them, because so many of our staff are out with COVID-19," she said. "We need you to open our beds for us. You can do that by getting vaccinated and by putting your mask on."
O'Neal said masking and vaccinations combined will help Louisiana avoid another shutdown.
"We're asking everyone in every single parish: put your mask on, and go get a vaccine," she said.
Zuschlag acknowledged the level of stress his employees are facing.
"I know all of you work very hard. I know this is very stressful you're putting in a lot of extra time," Zuschlag said. "But in order for us to move forward, we've got to get the number of vaccines increased, so we don't have so many people getting sick. That's the answer, and it's important we try to address that issue."
Zuschlag urged employees with concerns about vaccinations get in touch with Acadian's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Chuck Burnell, to discuss them.
Here's the video: