Governor issues serious warning about hospital capacity

"We do have our first, confirmed, positive COVID-19 case in Southwest Louisiana in Calcasieu...
"We do have our first, confirmed, positive COVID-19 case in Southwest Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish," said Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, the state's medical director for this region.(CDC)
Updated: Mar. 19, 2020 at 10:06 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards issued a serious warning Thursday about what Louisiana’s healthcare capacity could soon face.

"Based on the first models that we ran under basically a worst-case scenario, the coronavirus spread and its impact could begin to outpace our healthcare capacity in a certain region down in the Orleans and Jefferson parish region within about 7 to 10 days without additional support from the federal government,” Edwards said.

Joseph Kanter, M.D., with the Louisiana Department of Health says the hospital system has to learn how to care for more people. Health officials are working with local hospitals now to prepare to take on the surge of patients they’re expecting.

“We will exceed what our normal healthcare capacity is, there is little question about that, you know the healthcare system is sized to meet the normal demand on an average day but what we know from the experiences of China, South Korea, Italy and now certainly Seattle, Washington is that normal capacity is not going to be enough to meet all the sick people that we are sure we are going to have,” Kanter said.

Kanter says there are three major areas they’re focusing on, that’s space, personnel and supplies. To increase capacity, he says the healthcare system will consider doing things like putting two patients in a room and cancelling elective procedures. Those medical professionals and resources would then be diverted to acute care.

“And, the third is supplies, do you have enough ventilators? Do you have enough IV’s? Do you have enough medicine? Hospitals are stocking up right now. We are pulling from our reserves and we’re building greater capacity.”

The Governor stresses that everyone must take personal responsibility to help slow the spread of the virus.

“I am again urging, I am imploring every resident in the state of Louisiana to understand you have a role to play, whether or not you are in a high-risk category, every person is capable of contracting and spreading this infection so, we need everyone to adhere to the precautions that we have put out.”

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