Ochsner Lafayette General shared on Tuesday a video recorded last summer in which employees publically responded to "negative and upsetting" comments on social media regarding COVID-19.
Louisiana saw some of the highest COVID-19 case numbers during a surge last summer. The video set out to respond to information being circulated on social media and "educate the public on what was happening at the time."
Employees were asked to respond to online comments in the style of Jimmy Kimmel's popular "Mean Tweets" segment. The end result was a lot more serious than anyone expected, the post says, but officials made the decision to hold off on releasing the video at the time.
Tuesday, one year after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Louisiana, Ochsner released the video.
The video was seen by CBS correspondent and Lafayette native David Begnaud, who asked why the video wasn't released last summer. Begnaud asked, "Wouldn't the right time to share it have been when you were recording this video because you thought it was so important to address those tweets, and at a point when Lafayette General was overrun with COVID patients...?"
KATC reached out to Oschner Lafayette General communications director Patricia Thompson, who said the decision was made not to release the video when it was recorded because there was "a lot of divisiveness going on in the community at the time...at the same time the hydroxychloroquine controversy was going on. And we had healthcare workers that [were] being ridiculed and attacked...releasing a video that responded to social media posts, it quickly seemed like it just wasn't going to be a good idea and that it wasn't going to change anyone's mind."
"We did not want to further expose our healthcare workers to more divisions," she said, adding that those in the video showed true emotion.
Thompson said once the climate at that point had changed, case numbers had dropped dramatically "and the moment had really passed to release the video."
It was decided to release the video on Tuesday because Thompson said officials thought that "sharing the video would be a stark reminder of the pain that the deadly virus caused," along with a reminder of the loss of life and "loss of human decency as well" over the past year.
Thompson said the information in the video was still relevant months after being recorded because Ochsner Lafayette General is still encouraging citizens to wear face masks, practice frequent hand washing, and other mitigation efforts that healthcare workers and public health officials emphasized at the onset of the pandemic. Those mitigation efforts are still being repeated a year later, so Thompson said the video is "certainly still relevant today."
The full video can be viewed below:
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