Hospitals move to route non-urgent patients away from ERs amid rapid surge in COVID cases
BATON ROUGE – Our Lady of the Lake, on behalf of community healthcare, is starting a nurse hotline to avoid filling emergency care units amid a new spike in the Coronavirus.
People with minor medical issues are asked to call the hotline where they will be triaged over the phone. Patients will then be directed to other resources such as an urgent care clinic, doctor’s office, or a video visit. Emergency rooms are for life-threatening illnesses and individuals should always call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
“If you show up in our emergency department today we are absolutely going to see you, but it’s going to take a while,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal in an interview on the 10 o’clock news Friday evening. “Our nurses are taking care of admitted patience in the emergency department. They’re working on limited beds. They’re going to get to you when we have time. If there’s a critical patient they’re going to spend time with that critical patient first. And that’s why, for minor complaints, we’d like you to seek care in urgent care or a primary care doctor’s office.”
Patients can call 765-5500 to reach the new OLOL hotline. Ear pain, tooth pain, medication refills, a sore throat without fever, and a rash without swelling are examples of medical issues the hospital would like people to take care of at places other than the emergency room.
Hospital officials city-wide are trying to mitigate a COVID surge that is filling up hospital beds and stressing already reduced staff.
Livingston Parish government offices were closed Thursday until early August because the Delta variant has either sickened too many government workers or forced them into quarantine. The surging variant is mainly affecting unvaccinated people and children. Although, as cases increase, some vaccinated people might even get sick with COVID. Symptoms in vaccinated people are usually minor.
Wednesday, Louisiana reported more than 5,000 new covid cases – the third highest since the pandemic started in March 2020.
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