A 20-person medical team is now in Lafayette to help Ochsner Lafayette General as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
"At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel from the U.S. Navy will deploy to Louisiana as part of a Department of Defense COVID-19 response operation," a statement from U.S. Army North states.
KATC's Katie Easter was at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center as the team arrived around noon Wednesday:
OLG posted on social media, saying how grateful they are for the help.
"Today, we received some much-needed assistance in the fight against COVID-19. Our team at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center is being expanded by four doctors, 14 nurses and two respiratory therapists – all highly trained personnel on loan from the U.S. Navy," the post states. "These healthcare professionals are being onboarded in our facility today and are specially trained for the Emergency Department, ICU and Med Surg. Because of them, we’ll be able to staff an additional 16-18 beds – beds sorely needed as cases continue to rise in our area.
"We requested support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and we were one of five U.S. cities to receive it. We don’t know know the formula they use to select their recipients, but we are most grateful and humbled."
Here's that post:
There are currently 95 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Ochsner Lafayette General; 17 are in the ICU.
The military medical personnel, including nurses, respiratory therapists and medical doctors, will support one hospital in Lafayette – Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. They arrived at the hospital around noon on Wednesday, and are getting acclimated so they can begin seeing patients as soon as possible. The team is shadowing the staff at Ochsner, an orientation that will last a few days. But come Friday, the team will get to work treating patients on their own.
Staff cheered as the team arrived, only a few weeks after Ochsner officials applied for assistance through FEMA.
"It was a relatively quick response. I don't know the exact criteria FEMA used, but I believe it would probably be the viral load and the need of the particular institution," said OLGMC CEO Al Patin.
According to Patin, several staff members are out sick because of COVID-19, causing a staff shortage.
"We're already in a nursing shortage, coupled with high numbers of this pandemic creates a situation where we need additional support," he said. "We have patients boarding in our emergency rooms, patients in our ICU setting that can't transition out. That creates a bottleneck and does not allow us to continue to take in patients from our community."
The medical team will allow Ochsner to bring in more patients.
"As the only level two trauma center in our region and the tertiary referral center for our region, it's important we can take those transfers from those facilities as the higher level of care alternative," Patin added.
Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, ARNORTH commander, said this is the second time Department of Defense medical assets have deployed to support Louisiana during the pandemic. ARNORTH is the joint force land component command of USNORTHCOM.
"While COVID-19 continues to challenge the community here and elsewhere in the U.S., we remain steadfast in our support of our local, state and federal partners," said Richardson. "Defending the nation, which includes defeating COVID-19, is truly a joint effort. U.S. Army North is proud to contribute alongside and in support of civil authorities in the whole-ofgovernment fight against COVID-19, as the command remains prepared for potential, future allhazards response and homeland defense.”
At this time, it's unclear how long the medical team will be in Lafayette.