Rural hospitals see a repeat of surges that makes it harder for them to take care of COVID-19 patients

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 3:55 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - West Feliciana Parish may have the highest vaccination rate in the state, but that dos not mean their emergency room bed isn’t full.

Just last night at West Feliciana Hospital, half of the patients that showed up at the ER, tested positive for COVID-19. “So, most of the patients that we are seeing when they come in that are COVID positive are not vaccinated, the ones who are vaccinated with what they are called breakthrough cases, those patients don’t really get sick from what we’re seeing,” says Dana Wallis who is registered ER nurse at West Feliciana Hospital.

Nurses say they are seeing more young patients test positive for COVID-19. In rural areas, smaller hospitals like West Feliciana can’t always provide resources for COVID patients. However, some of the larger hospitals in the capital are reaching patient capacity and can’t always take in transfers.

“We are having to look outside of the Baton Rouge area which is typically where we transfer our patients who are need specialties. We’re having to transfer to New Orleans and other places in the state,” adds Wallis.

The hospital is at the point where they’re having to remodel their ER to fit more COVID-19 patients.

“As the year has gone on, we started seeing the numbers go up, and you know our CEO and leadership team has decided that this will be a good investment to keep the community safe and to keep our staff members safe,” says Brandon Tumey who is also a registered ER nurse.

Nurses and Doctors are even taking matters into their own hands by putting up filters in each patients’ room. They hope these cylinder tubes will keep the virus in a bubble instead of spreading and infecting others.

“Which means all of the bacteria or virus that’s contained in that room will just be in that room versus spilling out into the hallway and contaminating other patients,” adds Tumey.

Nurses that spoke with WAFB today say they are hoping things will turn around and the surge won’t accelerate like last summer.

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