Ochsner Health leaders delay procedures, continue to see younger COVID patients

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President Warner Thomas: "If we had a higher vaccine rate, we would not be in this situation."

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – On Thursday morning, Ochsner Health leaders held a media briefing to give the latest COVID updates. The President and CEO of Ochsner Health, Warner Thomas, started off the briefing by saying that Ochsner hospitals statewide have seen a slight decrease in COVID patients.

There is some plateauing going on as this week there are 1,028 COVID patients compared to last week where there were 1,043 patients.

Ochsner Health provided a breakdown of COVID patients in particular areas throughout the state:

  • Baton Rouge – 77
  • New Orleans – 335
  • Lafayette – 169
  • North Louisiana – 106
  • Northshore – 209

89% of the COVID patients in Ochsner Health are unvaccinated which means that 118 out of 1,028 COVID patients have gotten the vaccine.

The average patient age is now 55 years old, which is lower than previous surges.

Doctors said the people who are going to the hospital are getting sicker and more are having to be intubated.

“That is also the segment of the population that we are seeing lower rates of vaccination,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention. “We know in our nursing home population they are primarily and mostly vaccinated. Nursing home residents are tested and so there’s really proactive methods around testing.”

Last week the system had to cancel over 1,100 elective procedures due to staff having to be redeployed to help with COVID patients.

“We’ve got over 150 doctors here at OMC and I can’t tell you how many across our other systems have all stopped what they were doing in their everyday practice and said ‘where can I help,’” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Hart.

The vaccine booster shot has begun in the state, and Ochsner has already given out a thousand of the third shot with appointments for 2,000 more. The system has had assistance from paramedics which has helped them get more of the monoclonal antibody treatments to outpatients.

“Now if people qualify for the monoclonal antibody infusion we are able to find a place and get them in within a day or two,” Dr. Hart said.

Of the over 9,000 people they have given the treatment to only 28 have ended up in the hospital. The doctors emphasize while the antibodies help, the best treatment and protection come from the vaccine.

One of the striking statistics is that the number of COVID pediatric patients. It has more than doubled in the last month from 7 to 16.

Image courtesy of Ochsner Health

Some of the other statistics provided by Ochsner Health include:

  • The number of quarantined employees has dropped from 530 to 450 over the last week
  • Ochsner Health has administered 510,000 vaccines
  • 1,073 COVID-19 booster shots have been administered
  • Patients transferred over the last week jumped from what is considered normal at 50 to 150 statewide
  • 1,160 surgeries canceled last week at Ocshner facilities

When speaking about surgeries being canceled, Dr. Hart gave transplants as an example of what has been affected by the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Hart finished by saying that “the decisions that you are making about vaccinating are not just an individual decision, you are affecting the care of people around you and around this state.”

In Baton Rouge, the theme is much the same at BRG, Ochsner and Our Lady of the Lake — there has been a slight decrease in the number of COVID hospitalizations. Our Lady of the Lake is providing the latest COVID hospitalization numbers in the three major Baton Rouge hospitals.

Image courtesy of Our Lady of the Lake

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