Home / Economy / Louisiana hospitals rely on generators, staff lockdowns after Hurricane Ida

Hospitals in and around New Orleans continued to operate on backup power and emergency staffing protocols, and some were forced to evacuate after damage from Hurricane Ida’s powerful winds.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans stockpiled bottled water ahead of the storm and sequestered staff for days to ensure there would be sufficient staff to care for patients, said physician-in-chief Mark Kline. The hospital was drawing power from six generators on Tuesday; local officials said the power could be out for up to three weeks.

Hospitals often have some staff ride out hurricanes at work to prevent being short staffed. Dr. Kline said a roster of essential personnel including physicians, nurses and other healthcare staff wouldn’t leave the hospital until the lockdown is lifted on Wednesday, when they swap places with a fresh team. Staff are exhausted, he said; some worked 22 of the last 24 hours.

“It’s like a zombie movie," he said.

The hospital sustained some roof and elevator damage, he said, but none was structural. Three floors of one newly opened building at the hospital were flooded over the weekend, Dr. Kline said.

“I was down there using these absorbent pads from the operating room—usually used to soak up blood—just putting them down to get water off the floors so people wouldn’t slip and fall and hurt themselves," he said. “It was a mess."

He said the hospital had enough fuel to run its six generators for six days, and that he had been told by the hospital’s facilities specialists that getting trucks in to refuel them shouldn’t be a problem.

Orleans Parish, where the hospital is located, has sufficient water at the moment, Dr. Kline said. When pumps go down, water that was once safe for drinking can become contaminated, a big problem for hospitals, he said. The hospital stockpiled bottled water in case the parish issues a boil-water notice or mandate, he said.

The hospital is currently at 50% of its bed capacity, he said. CHNO discharged any patients that could be sent home safely before the hurricane, he said, and a recent surge of Covid-19 cases tempered over the past week.

Storm damage to hospitals outside New Orleans has prompted evacuations.

Ida moved more slowly than expected and its powerful winds caused significant damage, said Ochsner Health Chief Executive Warner Thomas. “Certainly, Hurricane Ida was a pretty rough ride," he said.

Ochsner evacuated 65 patients Monday from St. Anne Hospital in Raceland and the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, which suffered roof damage and water leaks, transferring patients to other Ochsner hospitals in the area. Doctors worked to identify the most critical patients who needed to be transferred first, said Mike Hulefeld, Ochsner’s chief operating officer.

Contractors Monday worked to repair roof damage at the two hospitals, Ochsner executives said.

The system’s other area hospitals also accepted more than 60 patients evacuated from Terrebonne General Health System. Houma-based Terrebonne General said it was evacuating patients for safety on social media on Monday.

“Terrebonne General suffered structural damages and there is no water supply being provided by Parish at this time," Terrebonne General’s Facebook post said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text


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