Pair of Baton Rouge hospitals mark day without COVID admissions, urge continued vaccination
BATON ROUGE - Two capital area hospitals have reason to celebrate this week, after going 24 hours without admitting any new COVID-19 patients.
Tuesday marked a major milestone for Our Lady of the Lake, with no new coronavirus patients admitted for the first time in a very long time.
"I think you have to celebrate, in the hospital, the opportunity for our teams to get some rest," Dr. Christopher Thomas, OLOL's medical director for quality and patient safety, said Thursday afternoon. "They haven't had rest in over twelve months. So the zero, for us, represents the opportunity for someone not to be working, quite frankly."
A couple of patients have been admitted since Tuesday. OLOL is currently treating around two dozen hospitalized COVID patients.
"We've seen one to two patients a day over the last 48 hours, which is obviously down from a peak where we had times of 20 and higher [patients admitted] over a 24-hour period," Thomas said.
Baton Rouge General hit the same milestone on Wednesday, admitting zero patients. It was the first time since March 17, 2020.
"We had to shake ourselves to make sure it was real, Monica Nijoka, chief nursing officer for Baton Rouge General, said. "We went back to double-check to make sure we hadn't missed someone, but we didn't admit any [COVID-19 patients] yesterday.
By Thursday afternoon, BRG had admitted one new COVID patient for the day, bringing to about 25 the number hospitalized there.
Ochsner in Baton Rouge has not reached the zero new admissions mark recently.
"I can't recall a day where we've had nobody that had to be admitted for observation or treatment in the last month, for sure," Dr. Ralph F. Dauterive, Jr., vice president of medical affairs for Ochsner Baton Rouge, said.
Ochsner Baton Rouge has about 18 COVID patients, which is the same number the hospital had before the third surge of infections late last year, Dauterive said.
Daily admissions have recently been a few per day. He hopes to get the number of virus patients down to single digits, said.
All three hospital systems say the key to keeping patients out of hospitals is getting them vaccinated.
"There's a point at which, if you can vaccinate those that are remaining in an aggressive format, you can see lower numbers," Thomas said.
Dauterive says the vaccination effort appears to be proving itself by the makeup of the patients they are treating. Only a very small fraction of whom are over 65 years old.
"I'm optimistic that the vaccine is working in what it was expected to do in its initial rollout, keeping the elderly from having severe infections and dying," Dauterive said.
Dauterive, Thomas and Nijoka all say they hope the trends seen this week, for the first time in a year, continue as all adults become eligible for the vaccine.