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OLOL planning for possible impacts when state reopens for business

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BATON ROUGE- With an influx of COVID-19 patients in hospitals around the state, the largest hospital in our area is planning for what impacts it might see once the state begins to reopen.

Our Lady of the Lake leaders said they continue to see a consistent amount of patients admitted to the hospital every day for COVID-19.

“The total peak is down and that has provided some opportunity for us on how we care for them,” Dr. Christopher Thomas said. “We put back into play some things like non-invasive ventilation. That’s a machine that doesn’t require a vent tube to support the patients.”

Right now, discussions are going on routinely to see what issues the healthcare system could face once the state begins to reopen. 

“We doubled ICU beds in 14 days,” Thomas said. “What you have to be concerned about is how you repurpose those spaces. What we have done is see how many patients will have COVID, how many beds will we need for those, and how many will come in that are just sick patients that live in our community.” 

Currently, there are between 160 to 180 ICU beds at OLOL. Doctors said about 20 percent of those beds are not in use, allowing them to plan for the future. 

This week, family members were allowed back in for a limited amount of time to see loved ones who are not expected to survive. 

Sandra Brown did not make it to the hospital in time Wednesday. She fought back tears talking about her sister who had just died.

“My nephew just called me and said come on, they get two people there for 30 minutes,” Brown said. “She was fighting Corona 19. She died this morning not too long ago.”

For healthcare workers on the front lines, this has been their reality. An inside look at the hospital shows workers busy, but there are some positive signs.

“I had an opportunity to take care of a gentleman over the weekend,” Dr. Thomas said. “He came to us on a ventilator and came off. He had three kids and was able to FaceTime with them. We walked him out of the hospital Saturday, and it reminds you why you do what you do.” 

As things begin to reopen, the big question is what strain, if any, it will place on hospitals. 

“We are confident we’ve built enough critical care capacity to handle both patients before COVID and critically ill COVID patients.”

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