Hospital, state leaders concerned for rising number of hospitalizations

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 10:11 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Hospital leaders in the metro area say they’re nowhere near numbers we saw in March where hospital capacity was at a near emergency level, but this should serve as a warning to help turn the trend around.

March was a scary time for hospital bed capacity and Covid-19 treatment in Louisiana, but state health leaders fear we may be moving in that direction again.

“My biggest concern is hospitalizations per capita over the last 14 days, they’re in an upward trajectory in all regions of the state,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

With only so many beds, doctors, and physicians able to provide that life-saving care, the governor announcing the state will stay in phase two until August 7, keeping bars closed and mandating masks.

“The best, fastest, surest way to reopen businesses people back to work is flatten the curve and get hospitalizations trending in the right direction,” said Edwards.

In the spring, it was the metro area with the steepest spike in Covid-19 cases. Hospital leaders say while hospital bed capacity is in the green for now, they too are seeing a concerning upward trend, especially among the younger population, even though they tend to have better outcomes with the virus.

“Some of those people do get extremely ill and we don’t always know why, so the key here again is to try and stop the community spread now so we can decrease the hospitalization number and week two weeks three weeks from now ultimately decrease the death rate,” said UMC ER physician and LCMC Covid lead, Dr. Jeffrey Elder.

The state’s also seeing a growing number of non-Covid related patients complicating hospital care in the middle of a pandemic. Metro area hospitals continue to help by taking in patients from struggling regions across the state, but that also means more patients for hospital staff to care for.

“People who delayed care because of concerns for Covid now coming in sicker and needing admission to the hospital,” said Dr. Alex Billioux.

“We do routinely take patients from other parts of the state for things like trauma and other specialize services, so we’re continuing to do that in those areas to send out those regions and we are taking some Covid patients when beds are an issue, but I would say the majority of patients we are seeing the hospital now our local patients,” said Elder.

Months after the first Covid spike in the spring, the message is the same: Louisianans need to help flatten the curve again.

“At the risk of sounding like broken record, wear masks, wash hands frequently stay home when you’re sick,” said Edwards.

Doctor Jeffrey Elder with UMC says they are not at the point to consider delaying non-essential surgeries or services.

There are a rising number of patients treated at the convention center or the medical monitoring station; currently 26 patients are being treated there.

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