Ochsner seeing plateau in COVID cases but far from declaring victory

Cases in Lafayette continue to increase
ochsner wgno.jpeg
Posted at 10:48 AM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 14:05:00-04

In their weekly update on COVID-19 Ochsner Health says they are seeing a plateau of cases in some locations but not enough to declare victory.

Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner Health began the press briefing Thursday with a look at numbers in their hospitals across the state. In total, 1,028 patient are hospitalized with COVID at Ochsner campuses. Thomas says that is a slight decrease from 1,043 last week.

Ochsner officials on the call say they are seeing some plateauing however they say the surge is still ongoing.

More patients are ending up in the ICU and being placed on ventilators, Dr. Robert Hart Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer said.

"We do everything possible to keep people off of ventilator, Now these patients are coming in and getting sicker," he said.

A breakdown of the COVID numbers across Ochsner facilities are below:

  • 77 in Baton Rouge
  • 112 in Bayou Region
  • 355 in New Orleans
  • 169 in Lafayette
  • 106 in North Louisiana
  • 209 in Northshore

Ochsner says they have seen an increase in Lafayette and the Northsore regions.

The majority of patients hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated patients. They have 910 unvaccinated patients in total, they say.

Just last week, 1,160 surgeries and procedures canceled across the system as COVID impacts services at hospitals. They are seeing limited or no bed capacity and are redirecting staff members to be redeployed to aid with COVID-19 patients.

Across the system, over 800 employees have been redeployed.

The age distribution for COVID patients during this surge has remained at an average of 55. This number is younger than previous surges.

Pediatrics are also seeing an increase in patients. Almost 6,000 children have tested positive for COVID this week in Louisiana, they say.

Ochsner says that in July there were 7 patients in their hospitals. Now, in August, Ochsner has admitted 26 pediatric patients for COVID-19. 16 patients are currently hospitalized across the system

The average age for pediatric COVID-19 patients is 5.7 with 10 of these patients 9 years old and under.

450 employees with Ochsner are isolating from positive tests or exposure to COVID which is down from 530 last week.

Staffing remains an issue.See the help for Lafayette General here.

Ochsner has administered 510,000 vaccines. 62 percent of staff is fully vaccinated with 69 percent having received their first dose.

The health system is administering third doses in the state. So far, 1,073 third doses have been administered. Around 2,000 third doses scheduled.

Transfers of patients are still a struggle for Ochsner facilities.

"We've had about 150 requests that we were not able to take to our facilities. These patients are staying where they are and having to seek treatment there. It is an issue that is impacting hundreds of people who cant get transferred to Ochsner."

Monoclonal Antibody testing is ongoing across the health system. 9,700 treatments have been completed in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Around 300 to 400 a week are done in Lafayette.

Only 28 patients have been admitted to the hospital after treatment, Thomas said.

"If people qualify for monoclonal antibody infusions, we can usually get them in, in a day or two. This will help in keeping COVID patients at of the hospital."

Ochsner still stress vaccinations after treatment which is around 90 days after infusion.

These treatments are given to people at the beginning of their COVID-19 diagnosis.

In the treatment for COVID, Ochsner dispelled some misinformation about Ivermectin.

"It dose not work. It is used to treat parasites and does not have a place in treating COVID-19," Dr Sandra Kimmerly, System Medical Director of Hospital Quality for Ochsner Health said.

Ochsner says that the information that is out there on social media, is misinformation.

Dr. Kimmerly says Ivermectin is commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat parasites or worms. It can sometimes be used in humans for the same reason. She says it is not effective at treating COVID and is not part of treatment.

When asked why younger individuals are being seen in hospitals, Ochnser officials say that younger people have lower rates of vaccinations. There are concerns that the younger population are still more active and going out without masks.

"Make sure you are protecting those around you," Dr. Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention said.

In Louisiana, 150 people under 50 have died from COVID in August 2021. Ochsner put that number into perspective sharing that 167 people under 50 died between Jan. 1 – June 30, 2021 of COVID.

She went on to say that while the elderly population is still vulnerable to the virus, they are seeing fewer older patients due to vaccination rate from those individuals early on in the pandemic.

"Those of us that can get a vaccine should be vaccinated so that we can protect those who cannot be vaccinated," Baumgarten said.

She stresses that young children still can not receive a vaccine and need everyone's help to protect them. Wearing a mask when in public spaces is also recommended.

In New Orleans, Ochsner says they believe they are seeing a plateau. "Masking is a great move, we just need people to adhere to it, to mask up across the state."

In Lafayette COVID cases are still increasing. Thomas said that they cannot declare victory over the slight plateaus seen this week. They believe the mask mandates have made a difference.

With schools opening, Dr. Hart says that they do not know just yet how it will effect this particular surge.

"This highlights how important it is that children going back to school need to be wearing a mask," Hart said. "This is the only way we can be doing it safely. We will be back to shutting down and virtual schools if we don't mask."

Hart says that children should be in schools to help with psychological and social development. Without the mitigation measures in place, he says, having children physically in school will not be possible.

Ochsner says that they will be following all guidelines that come from the Louisiana Department of Health. They would like to see more people following the mitigation measures to help alleviate the current surge.

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