CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana has faced a number of challenges in its 112 years serving the people of Lake Charles and surrounding communities, including Hurricane Rita. Hurricane Laura, however, brought widespread destruction and many challenges that seemed insurmountable. But the committed caregivers in Southwest Louisiana have faced them all. Just as our Lake Charles Associates have supported their coworkers across the country in their times of need in the past. Along with our Ochsner Health partners CHRISTUS Health is working alongside our brothers and sisters who need us today. We are One CHRISTUS, and through our solidarity, commitment and mission, we have been able to keep our doors open to the people of Lake Charles who need our help most of all. For those Lake Charles residents who have evacuated across the state, they are currently eligible to use Ochsner Anywhere Care for free urgent care virtual visits.
Damage at Lake Area
One of its hospitals in the city, CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area, suffered considerable damage in multiple areas, so leaders were forced to temporarily close it. Teams weathered the storm there with their patients and then safely transferred them to other CHRISTUS and Ochsner facilities after surveying the damage, including 4 NICU babies, who were transferred to the hospital's sister location, CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth. CHRISTUS positioned expert remediation teams nearby before the storm, coupled with Ochsner resources coming to Lake Charles, the facility is near reopening.
We understand the difficulties involved in restoring utility services across the area. As a result, CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital is serving the community using backup power and its secondary water supply system as they work to repair damages to the facility and treat the numerous patients there who need hospital care.
Though generators have been part of hospital emergency preparations for some time, the secondary water supply delivery system is a new addition from CHRISTUS sister hospital in Beaumont, Texas. When Hurricane Harvey flooded the region in 2017, the hospital's water supply was compromised. During the recovery, CHRISTUS experts immediately began building a system to ensure water would be available in times of crisis and began implementing it at every CHRISTUS facility that faces the threat of flooding and severe weather. It is this water system that has allowed CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital to remain open serving Lake Charles during this time.
Remaining open during this difficult time has required the support of a full health care system and new resources every day. Nurses, security personnel and other frontline caregivers are coming from across the CHRISTUS system to treat patients and relieve those who have been at the hospital since the storm: nurses from Longview, Texas, facilities experts from Beaumont, and more.
CHRISTUS Health is proud to support their talented and resilient Associates. They do know that some Associates were impacted by Hurricane Laura and have lost everything they own-homes, cars, clothing, etc., and they are collecting donations to support their own. Showers were set up onsite for Associates to use between shifts.
COVID-19 further complicated the hospital's plans to shelter-in-place during the storm. In the past, the hospital has been able to house plenty of staff easily. However, the hospital's census was higher than usual due to COVID-19, and increased masking and distancing requirements meant that there was less room for staff to stay safely. A sleeping trailer has been deployed so Associates can rest and regain their strength. Through collaborative efforts working together with a goal to serve Lake Charles, repairs to Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Centers are moving along at an accelerated pace. Once open, these health centers will provide a convienient and more affordable option than the ER, especially for pregnant patients requiring regular check-ups.
With healthcare workers unable to find gasoline for their cars, a tanker truck was set up at CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area Hospital for all CHRISTUS Ochsner Associates to utilize to fuel their vehicles. Because so many retail locations are closed, a grocery store is being set up for Associates at the CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick facility where Associates will use vouchers to purchase items.
Hurricane Laura brought with it many challenges as well as the opportunity to fulfill the CHRISTUS Health mission "to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ." Even amidst the destruction, the statues of Jesus at each CHRISTUS hospital campus remain intact, a tangible example of the providential care these facilities and caregivers received as they faced yet one more storm together.
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