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Acadiana healthcare leaders ask for diligence ahead of holidays as COVID cases rise

Healthcare leaders say local hospitalizations appear to be stabilized but expect to see another rise soon from Thanksgiving gatherings.
Posted at 12:30 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 16:30:21-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory and several Acadiana healthcare leaders held a press briefing Tuesday to give an update on how the region is handling the recent rise of COVID-19 cases.

Guillory was joined at the briefing by Louisiana Department of Health Region 4 Director Dr. Tina Stefanski, Our Lady of Lourdes Chief Medical Officer Dr. Henry Kaufmann and Ochsner Health Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Stephen Rees who all spoke about how local hospital operations are doing after the latest spike in COVID-19 cases in Acadiana.

Stefanski reiterated her plea for residents to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and practice social distancing during the holiday season and said that doing so was "now more important than ever."

"Our region is leading the state in this third wave," said Stefanski.

She also said that with the COVID-19 vaccine on the way there is an end in sight, however she said that the vaccine would likely not be widely available until next Spring.

Stefanski said that as of Tuesday, there are 223 patients in hospitals in Acadiana. She added that there have been 18 deaths in the region since the beginning of December.

She encouraged residents to be mindful of holiday gatherings and asked the community to work together to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Kaufman provided an update on current hospital operations at Our Lady of Lourdes and said that they've seen a tripling of COVID patients in the last week. However, he said that things have started to stabilize over the last week as well.

He said that OLOL currently has 50 COVID-19 patients, which represent 30% of their bed capacity. He added that these 50 patients are not unique COVID patients and that they are seeing a large number of COVID patients each day.

Kaufman said that the ICU remains full as it usually does this time of year, but that it also remains stable although they are on the cusp of going over.

He said that hospital discharges are keeping up with hospital admissions, but that they haven't yet seen the expected increase from Thanksgiving that should start to show up in the next week or two.

Kaufman said that in order to maintain the hospital's capacity, they have moved to restrict some elective surgeries and are reviewing on a daily basis which of those surgeries to allow and which to postpone to maintain bed space.

He said that they are evaluating which surgeries require inpatient hospitals stays for a day or longer when considering whether a surgery can go forward.

Kaufman said that OLOL has several facilities in Lafayette that can receive COVID patients from the main campus if needed.

Rees said that Ochsner has also seen a significant rise of COVID-19 cases in the Acadiana area recently, but that they have also appeared to "steady out a little bit" over the last few days.

He says that Ochsner has 96 patients in the hospital's surge area and 20 in the ICU with 5 deaths in the last two days at their hospital system.

Rees said that Ochsner also has several other medical facilities around Lafayette where COVID patients can be shifted to in case the main campus gets overwhelmed.

He said that he and other healthcare leaders from Acadian Ambulance, the LHC Group and the Schumacher Group have been on regular calls to help coordinate the local response in order to treat the Acadiana community.

Rees also encouraged residents to wear their masks, wash their hands and social distance as they plan their family gatherings and other activities for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

You can watch Tuesday's full press briefing below:

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